The Angel who inspired Its A Wonderful Life

A story about an angel.

Santa Monica Sunset

"Its a Wonderful Afterlife" is on sale via Amazon  (

I watched the Capra film the other night, annual tradition, and I was asked the story that Capra recounted about the genesis of the film (and how I came upon the title for my book.)

Frank says in his book "Name Above the Title" he started deflecting meetings by telling his agent "I'm not feeling well."  He had spent a fortune fighting his boss Harry Cohn for stealing his name and putting it on films in England ("Frank Capra presents" even though he had nothing to do with the films.) Capra was exhausted from the lengthy court battle (which Cohn eventually settled, but the scene where George Bailey screams at his kids and destroys the bridge model is based on what Capra did after losing the first round. He says he screamed at his family, then went up the hill behind his house and was so filled with rage it made him nauseous.) 

Capra said once he started telling people he "wasn't feeling well" he wasn't feeling well, and doctors came to see him and couldn't tell him what his problem was.  But it was so bad, he says he was at death's door - lying in bed,  refusing to get out, or see anyone.  And then one day his assistant Max told him that "someone was here to see him" but the man wouldn't give a name and insisted on coming up to his bedroom.

Capra says he crawled out of bed to go to the next door room where the man was sitting.  He described him as a short bald man with glasses, but a nondescript face.  He had never seen the man before, and neither had Max.  But the man started railing at Capra saying "You have to get out of bed. You're in there feeling sorry for yourself, when people out in the world need your talent."  Capra says that Max had the radio on, and he could hear Hitler shouting in the next room.  The bald man said "You hear that man shouting hatred in the next room?  How many people can he reach with his voice? A million? You can reach tens of millions of people in the dark in a theater."  He told Capra to "stop feeling sorry for himself, to get out of bed and get back to doing what you were put on Earth to do."

Capra says after the man left, Capra called his writing partner and the two of them drove out to Two Bunch Palms and locked themselves into a room until they hammered out "It's a Wonderful Life."  (Capra said the studio purchased a self published book which is credited in the film, but Capra claims it was this little man who inspired his film.)

Years later, when National Security Advisor in the Reagan administration Robert McFarlane tried to commit suicide, he got a copy of the film in the mail from someone anonymously. (Perhaps from Reagan himself? Makes sense). 

Robert Mcfarlane IAGS.jpg
Robert "Bud" McFarlane

But watching the film made McFarlane realize he had more things in life to live for - (Bud is still alive, still kicking) - but he says he never knew who sent him the videotape.  

Perhaps a little bald man with a nondescript face?

Merry Christmas!


It Takes a Village and Credit Where Credit is Due

Very hard to see the string of life that connects us all to everyone else. Hard to see that it "takes a village" for good things to happen, as well as bad.

SM Sunset

In light of the recent events in San Bernardino, it's hard to see any sense from something that's so painful or diffcult to wrap our minds around. How does all this pain and suffering relate to our current journey in life? It takes a village for these kinds of events to occur - looking the other way, watching someone you know purchase tons of ammo (His father is quoted as saying "When I saw my son with a gun, I said "In 45 years in America, I never needed a gun" to which his son replied "Your loss." Obviously he'd been angry for awhile.) It takes a village for these events to occur, from the indiscriminate drone strikes to the angry woman who seeks revenge, to the person selling tons of ammo to anyone who wants it, to the postman who delivers it and doesn't care why.  

It's hard to examine why events like these occur on a spiritual level, but it behooves us to look at the research.

I'm fond of writing "Well, I don't know why this person acted this way because I'm not in his or her soul group."  (You'd have to have read "Flipside" and "It's a Wonderful Afterlife" to allow me that point of view, and apologies to those of you who have not.  It doesn't come lightly.) In my research people report previous lifetimes where tragic events occurred, but from a soul perspective they talk about how and why they signed up to participate in them.

I can tell you that in the transcripts of the over 25 sessions I've filmed and documented, there are many tales of people remembering difficult, painful previous lives, and they discuss "why" they chose them - and even when they said they chose that lifetime, they observe that perhaps it was more difficult than they thought.

For example my pal Howard Schultz (television producer) did a between life session some years ago.  And in it he remembered a lifetime where he was a young Jewish girl living in Denmark, who was deporated and sent to die in Dachau.  He was asked why he chose such a difficult lifetime and he said "to experience the dark."  He said that he'd had so many lifetimes that were filled with light, it was important for him "to remember the dark" and that he'd agreed to partipate in that dark period.   

Howard on a panel

However, he said, it had altered him in a profound way - he said that the events were so dark, that it had "scorched his soul."  The hypnotherapist (Scott De Tamble, asked him if there was any way to help him with that wound.  Howard said "They're taking me to the "river of souls" and I'm walking out into it, and I'm being healed by it."  

I'd never heard of anyone describing a river during these sessions, much less a river of souls - but I understood what Howard was trying to express.  That by walking into that river, he was able to sooth and heal a psychic wound.

Unfortunately for those who knew him, Howard passed away suddenly a year ago.  The tributes to his life and journey have been nothing shy of amazing, as he moved and touched many people he worked with.  He also observed during his between life session another reason he had named his company "lighthearted entertainment" - as it helped "bring people into the light through laughter."

What about someone who hasn't had one of those sessions, and yet is able to affect people in a profound way?

I heard of one such instance this past weekend.  About six months ago, a close friend was outside a Whole Foods grocery store in our hometown of Santa Monica and witnessed a homeless man being arrested for "stealing food."  

She instantly saw what the problem was - this man was hungry and couldn't afford to pay for the basic foods he had lifted.  On the spot she asked if she could pay for them.  But the store manager said "no" as the police had already been called.  She pleaded with the officer to let him go, but the officer said it was "out of his hands."  He had to arrest the guy and bring him downtown.

(My friend had experienced what being arrested was about - she had once been arrested during a protest to save trees in our hometown, and the brutality of the prison guard, who wouldn't let her use the restroom or make a call for six hours was traumatic.) So she did her best to stop this process from happening, and when it happened anyway, she took to the telephone to protest.

She called the store manager who told her to call corporate headquarters.  And at Whole Foods corporate headquarters she got someone who was sympathetic, but really couldn't do anything to change this particular case.  However, she thanked her for making the call and said "If anything like this comes up again, please give me a call."

This past weekend, there was the annual Christmas event at the Veterans Hospital here in Santa Monica. And one of her co-workers was organizing it, but suddenly got off the phone and said that for some reason they had lost their sponsor, and the event was happening in only a few days and they lost a sponsor!  
Annual Xmas event at the VA in West LA
So she remembered this woman's words, got her on the phone, and quickly Whole Foods took over the sponsorship, and supplied 3000 items (for free) to these veterans and their families who attended the event in Santa Monica.

When I heard the story, I said "that's amazing that you did that for these people."  She said, "Oh I didn't do it.  I just made a phone call to the people who did it."

Ah, but that's the point.

It takes a village to help someone.  It takes a village to hurt someone.  But if you do that one gesture, that one thing that will help another person today, that's the kind of healing and helping hand we all need.  It required that poor homeless guy to steal some food (she paid for it anyway) so that she could make that call to find that person who would later become the sponsor.  The woman even said "We plan these events at least a couple of years in advance, but because it's for Veterans, we'll step in."

So credit where credit is due.

That woman is my dear wife, mother of our two kids; Sherry.  And she made some people very happy this weekend, but won't take credit for it.  However, she deserves to be applauded for her efforts. If she hadn't tried to save that homeless fellow, she wouldn't have the woman's phone number. 

Sherry not taking credit.

It does take a village, but at least one villager has to step up.

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