Richard’s father, Don W. Carlson, exemplified how to live a celebratory life, one that was well-lived and loved. For his memorial, his daughter’s desire was an intimate gathering because there would have been 1,000 people in attendance, otherwise.
Don was a great man. He was profoundly humble about his humanness yet he showed up as big as his 6 feet 5 inch frame. In his college days he was a 3-time letterman at Stanford University. He played basketball in the Army where he also held the United State’s Army physical fitness record. He went on to become a real estate mogul in the eighties with the premiere success of Consolidated Capital: A syndicated real estate company. He believed in personal growth for his hundreds of employees bringing progressive speakers like Ram Das and Stephen Levine to his company.
He helped build an organization called BENS (Business Executives for National Security) involving Ted Turner and Shirley MacLaine that was instrumental in ending the cold war. He visited Russia as a diplomatic gesture and co-authored a book with Craig Comstock called Citizen Summitry. He ran and funded the ARC philanthropy foundation for many years.
He was politically active picking his candidate–one aligned with his values. He would campaign and fund raise for the politicians he wished to see in office.
After selling his company, his fortune was greatly diminished by legal battles. As a major shareholder in ConCap, Don held onto his own shares as an act of integrity to the people he had enrolled into his general partnerships while many of the top shareholders cashed out to preserve their own interests.
Don Carlson was a man of heart who was also as generous as any person could be.
He was a man who didn’t care much about the stuff money could buy; he made his fortune only to give most of it away. For all of his accomplishments, however, I have never been so impressed with anyone as I was with him in the last two years of his life. His gratitude and his love of life continued even though he had been dealt a hand most of us dread.
After a debilitating stroke that left him immobile, except for the movement of his head, one hand, and arm, he lay in bed in complete surrender with a feeding tube, blind from macular degeneration, and his mind in tact. What a great mind he had, too. Full of the knowledge of thousands of books he had read over the years—well developed opinions on politics and economics—well informed on all of the great philosophers.
I would visit him often and he would tell me, despite all of his hardships, “Kris, I’m so grateful for this life. It’s not that bad lying here. The people caring for me are really kind and my friends come by to see me. And, I’m so grateful for your visits.” My heart would break open a little more as I loved his spirit and the gentleness he showed me. His ego had all but dissolved allowing the purity of his essence to be present. To me, he had taken on the energy of a true Master of Love.
Don Carlson was in love with life itself and felt the blessing of that—right up until his last breath.
I have this vision of him with Richard and his beloved wife, Barbara, walking barefoot along the seashore. I see them kicking it and laughing—together now. We had a lot of good times as a family and knowing the Carlsons’, and marrying their son changed the trajectory of my life. I will be forever grateful to Don and Barbara Carlson for having raised such a magnificent man in Richard.
I will be forever grateful for this time of my life.
Buddha said, “A life well lived is one that loves greatly, lives gratefully and let’s go of what is not meant for you.” This is life Mastery.
When you love life itself—more than any one thing that goes right or wrong—that’s when you are living your most resilient and vibrant life.