The Inconspicuous Achiever In the Background
The Inconspicuous Achiever In the Background
By Michael Cooke
At first, he was just, kind of there. From out of nowhere suddenly fashioning an appearance: an unknown face in the crowd making the scene at the Wilshire Subud House in LA.
Some years ago I first spotted him on the 2nd floor landing after a men’s latihan. A few of us introduced ourselves and engaged him with preliminary welcoming patter. He provided an overview backdrop to his origins and situation: he’d been living in the States for a number of years and was/is a Subud child, with his French mother and English father being widely respected and active in the Subud world.
He came to the Subud hall intermittently at first. Then around 2016 he attended more regularly. We learned he’d just come oﬀ a divorce and was the father of then two pre-teen daughters.
An amiable man, reserved in manner. He emits the feeling of clinging to the wall a bit. It is presumed this aloofness is possibly out of a sense of self-protection, as in his withdrawal may be attributed to some shyness. But later, in getting to know him more, one might gather it is not shyness per se that draws his bloom to the wall. It is suspected it is more a choice he has made stemming from the nature of his own being. But without question there is a privacy about the man, a sense of maintaining a force field solitude. This for not only self-protection purposes but also as a regenerating necessity in shoring up his armor with which to do battle with the forces in his life.
In the most unobtrusive relaxed attitude and manner he became a most sincere member to our group. This not confined alone in his diligence and devotion to his regular latihan attendance. He somehow oﬀered and then implemented a most welcome renewed Subud Library. With assistance from other sisters and brothers, he ordered and rearranged the library to be not only more attractive, but more accessible to members for Bapak talks and other Subud literature to be conveniently borrowed. He also was a candidate helper who became a full-fledged helper who has contributed much perspective and value to our men’s group.
The work he currently does (and did when all of us at Subud LA first met him) is as the manager for a turbo generator company. – incredible details to be particularized forthwith.
One day he and a certain Arthur Barrett and I all convened at a local Bean Leaf chain for a teacup or two of coﬀee. Copious mental notes were taken when the two of them touched on their keen rapport on the various aspects, merits, functions of the turbo generating world. Rapt with bug-eyed attention as this participant/observer was, one felt the experience and interchange these two gentlemen were having on this subject had to be placed in the “you had to be there” category. Scintillating how oil, (yes, the goopy black kind they bring up from the earth) relates to the operation of a turbine generator. Even a cursory overview of this technology is nothing less than stupefying stuﬀ! The details they shared to do with the specifics of turbo hardware were underscored as a most necessary technology for essential operations – even for the military world! Glued to my seat speechless while they carried on with their discourse was unclassifiable by any criteria. So riveting was their interaction of word that frankly, my head is still reeling. To be certain, I am not indiﬀerent to the facts, sisters and brothers: for I too assiduously check my own oil daily.
It was one evening after a latihan when mention of a certain line of work was casually dropped. His low-key line reading of this chosen work slipped out as if it were a nothing at all occupation, like some chap sitting in a cubicle counting oﬀ the hours from nine to five. It was as if we didn’t quite hear what he actually said. He casually mentioned in relation to some context to do with the conversation the several of us were having that he’d been a yacht captain. ‘What’? He did what?! – A yacht captain! And that for a number of years in that capacity he’d traveled to and fro “sailing the seven seas” delivering yachts to ports of call. Suddenly literary seamen like Conrad and Jack London came to mind. – This reveal inspired this chronicler to (at the time) occasionally raise this brother’s stature from the title of Captain to the higher distinction of that of ‘Commodore’. Though he didn’t appear to mind my raising his station, the sense was he preferred just being called Daniel. For that is his name, **Commodore** **Daniel Jackson**. Sorry, excuse me – Daniel.
This was the beginning of more sweet unravellings of various skills and interests Mr. Jackson had developed and excelled at in his occupational life.
At the time we first met I had been without a vehicle for some time. But getting to the Subud hall was fairly easy for me in that I lived relatively near the hall and taking a bus was not too much of a bother. On hearing my carless situation he kindly oﬀered give me a lift since his route in getting to the latihan hall was along a trajectory quite near where I lived. Obviously, this is where he and I began to know a bit more about each other. And in easy time our at first acquaintanceship turned into friendship.
His car at the time was a Corolla that sported a gold-ish hue exterior. So I dubbed it, “The Golden Chariot”. He’d visited Indonesia on several occasions. And when he was about to travel he’d pick me up, drive to the airport and surrender The Golden Chariot to my care until his return.
Among several fascinating details of Daniel’s trips to Indonesia was his visiting Bapak’s grave and his experience he felt on that occasion. He was also to be one of the last people (at that time) to visit Komodo Island before the Indonesian government’s decision to keep Komodo Island open but limited visitors after pushback. This action was taken in order to stop tourists interfering with the natural behavior of the largest species of lizard on earth, the Komodo dragon.
Daniel and I cover much in our conversations. A lot of what we have talked about and continue to do so was the action of the latihan in our lives. We often comment on various realizations we’ve received from the explanations and advice given us from Bapak in Bapak’s talks. Daniel recalled the writings of Mas Sudarto, Mas Prio and Mas Brodjo. He referenced the spiritual atmosphere at that time in Indonesia in the late 1950’s, the attention given to allowing more time to be quiet for a far longer period before the latihan would begin. And how the members there after latihan were steadfast in remaining in that quiet of post latihan state. This in contrast to what we often do here in the west. This being our tendency after latihan to jump head on back into world-related nafsonic conversation. In a way, the onset of the ‘novel virus’ in terms of our solitude and reflection has given us the opportunity to perhaps understand that in a longer quiet preparation before latihan we might receive a deeper “relax” and a more “letting go” surrender when we begin and experience our latihan.
Of the aforementioned trajectory of Daniel’s access to the latihan hall, Daniel also frequents the laundry facility just up the street from where I live. So during this pandemic clampdown we’d meet at the laundromat to do our laundry, have some coﬀee and then do a latihan at my place. (NOTE: yes, we do take care and precautions in our anti-contagious-novel-virus awareness).
All these nuggets of Daniel’s life experience and accomplishments would suddenly be revealed to me a bit like my discovering a new vein of gold or mineral ore in the least expected place.
For example, Daniel makes and bakes cakes. He asks his daughters in advance of their forthcoming birthdays what theme or image or concept would they like on their birthday cake. He’d learned how to bake initially from his French mom who was always baking pies and more.
He filled me in only the other day that when he’d graduated from college in 1987 he went to study baked goods and flour confectionary. And after graduating in ’89 he obtained a position in Oberammergau, Germany, where he was employed baking bread and desserts. After about a year he quit the baking job.
And in 1990 he went traveling to Canada – a small village called Millbrook, northeast of Toronto. He took a Greyhound bus across Canada for 3 days to a small island called Pender Island oﬀ Vancouver coast. There he stayed with Roger Langrick, a Subud member and the first westerner to be oﬃcially qualified in acupuncture. He worked cleaning construction sites and learned how to drive a dump truck around island. Despite his having no license he could do this work because in the end, it really didn’t matter as he was quite friendly with the only three policemen stationed on the island.
He had a friend in Toronto who called him and invited him to go to Atlanta, Georgia. Daniel’s friend’s aunt in Atlanta paid for the ticket. She owned a catering firm. And Daniel and his friend stayed and worked for her. This allowed them to not only pay her back for the loan of the travel ticket but also earn some money.
He met a lady there who invited him to stay at her family’s house. Of that invite he met the woman’s three daughters (shame they weren’t farmer’s daughters, but something of that old joke of yore came true). He wound up marrying one of the lady’s daughters.
He got tired of baking and quit his job. He’d always been interested in auto mechanics. And so while ambling down an Atlanta street one day, he came upon “D and D Garage”. And without the slightest hesitation with full confidence walked in and asked for a job learning how to be a mechanic. The owner, Steve, took him on. And soon Daniel became quite proficient learning the mechanics of the automotive trade. He told me that in time, as in a few years in, when Steve would go oﬀ on hunting jaunts Daniel became D and D Garage’s manager. So proficient was Daniel’s acumen in areas mechanic and management.
During his ten year stay in Atlanta, Daniel also renovated two houses before divorcing his wife that, to be unambiguous, was a marriage of youth.
Daniel had had a feeling for sailing. And wanted to make a living doing it. And so he went to Antigua to the famous race week and walked the docks. As we now know of Mr. Jackson, he is no slouch when he puts his intention, energy and will to accomplishing something. Daniel soaks up knowledge with beneficial payoﬀ results.
He got on a local boat and won the class. Got on another boat and sailed to Bermuda. Went back to England. Went to the Mediterranean, sailed for a few months oﬀ Ibiza. With his parents’ help, he went to the Isle of Wight and got an ocean master license and marine engine operators license.
There he saw a pretty 150ft schooner and hopped onboard to talk to the captain. – A few days later Daniel was working on board.
He obtained vast experience in action. Broke steering in the bay of Biscay forced him and the crew three days emergency steer, fixed in port. Then other diﬀerent items broke. He then left that boat in Porto Santo, a small island oﬀ the Canaries. He got on another boat, spent the
next few years traveling the seas. He incurred all sorts of threatening incidents, fires onboard, holes in the boat, sails blown out… Went to Africa, crossing Atlantic, the Caribbean, Venezuela, Panama canal, and to the west coast of the America’s, to a place called Los Angeles.
He met his second wife, had two daughters. Worked in a yacht dealership. Then in time he left the dealership to start his own business, Precision Yacht Works. This enterprise involved essentially all aspects of yacht/boat related matters including, of course, repair. One of his clients was a man named John. Daniel was a regular under his employ in the care of John’s boat.
One particular day Daniel arrived to work on John’s boat. And as is his wont to do in his attending to repairs he respectfully and carefully unravelled his tool bag. He did so methodically, with regard – not only for his tools but in his attitude towards the repair of the task that was before him. In his preparation he demonstrated an inherent respect for what he was about to do, he projected a sort of Tool de la Paix. This attitude did not go unnoticed. For unbeknownst to Daniel, John happened to be there quietly observing Daniel’s actions in his Tool Unravelling Ritual. This attention to respectful detail made such an impression on owner John that he oﬀered Daniel a job as the manager of a company he owned. At the time Daniel respectfully turned down the oﬀer for various reasons. But about a year or so later while Daniel was bedridden recovering from back surgery, Daniel received a call from John concerning the previously oﬀered position. Learning that the position was still available, John, oﬀered Daniel the job upon Daniel’s back injury recovery. Daniel’s new job was as the manager for a turbo generator company.
Though I may’ve heard just about everything, I still expect to hear more achievements and mastery to be revealed from this inconspicuous achiever, who seemingly has been blending somewhere in the background.
I said to Daniel the other day that my teeth are in a condition similar to the devastating photos of blown-out war-torn England during the Second world war. This to say much work would have to be done on my entire orifice. He said to me, “Give me a fortnight or so, I’ll have your teeth and mouth sparkling and in better shape than any Beverly Hills or Harley Street Dentist you can name. Just leave it to Dr. Daniel Jackson DDS.” – What a guy!
Imperative to add: The Commodore has recently purchased a boat. It required a lot of repair: re-wiring, re-everything. He of course attends to every detail and performs all repairs himself. Given the swift progress he’s making, his HC 33 will be seaworthy almost before I finish this sentence. Additionally, due to circumstance, I acquired a 1999 Subaru Forester.
Daniel has been most helpful in diagnosing some automotive issues for “Scooby-Doo” (his onomatopoeic nickname for the car). He’s counseled me on future adjustments and necessary improvements for Scooby-Doo. Of that, as mentioned, I assiduously check my own oil daily.
By Michael Cooke
Michael Cooke is an actor, known for Mulholland Drive (2001), Showgirls (1995) and Starting from Scratch (1988). He is a long-time “battler with the forces” Subud brother in Los Angeles, having hailed originally from New York. He is a clam-jumbled jazz piano player who at times lets chirp from his pipes an occasional warble. He is an erratic scribbler and sustains the all view regard of this wheel we all walk upon by wholly ascribing to Nietzsche’s precept, “We have to regain the seriousness we had as a child at play.”
For his own entertainment, Michael has created over thirty short video pieces which can be viewed at his youtube channel here.