As we grow older it’s only human to look back and evaluate one’s life. In retrospect, is the world a better place for my being here? Over the years I have repeatedly asked myself: did I contribute enough? What more could I have done?
For fourteen years, I was Elvis Presley’s close friend, personal hairstylist and spiritual mentor. When I set aside my emotions and allow my intellect to take over, I accept the reality that years of neglect, a diet of junk foods, an exhausting and devitalizing lifestyle and toxic damage, caused Elvis to lose his life so tragically young.
I know that in many ways I helped Elvis – but I always wondered if there was anything more I could have done to save him. I’ll never know. The truth is, no one really saves anyone, but we can help others to save themselves. It’s too late for Elvis…but it’s not too late for you or me to learn a lesson from him and save our own lives. Knowing Elvis as I did, he truly would want it that way.
Towards the end, Elvis’ body increasingly suffered from a host of debilitating health conditions, yet his youthful mind and the beauty of his spirit were still attuned to the idea that life is sacred. Ultimately his state of health became a source of concern and continual conversation between us. He woke up to the painful realization that without dramatic changes in his life, both personal and professional, he would not survive.
During Elvis’ lifetime and continuing since his death, the rumor mill has been rife with speculation of his drug use. The paradox of this aspect of Elvis’ life is that he was adamant about his friends not using recreational drugs around him. Ironically, his blind spot was not acknowledging that his own dependency on prescription drugs, while legal, was no different and perhaps even more dangerous.
“The spirit is willing, Lawrence, but the flesh is weak.”
Approaching the breaking point, Elvis was determined to fight for and transform his life.
Many times during the closing days of his life we explored ways for him to take on this monumental task. A plan soon emerged: we would go to one of his favorite places, Hawaii. Elvis was burnt out after years of touring the country and was excited by the prospect of taking off a year or so, if that was what it might take to turn everything around.
The idea of kicking back and relaxing, finally cutting out junk foods and getting off “all those damn pills they give me” really inspired him. Eating loads of fresh fruits and vegetables, drinking fresh juices, daily exercise, running and playing football on the beach and meditation were on the top of our to-do list. We were like little kids eagerly looking forward to the end of the school year and the long, happy days of summer vacation. It’s a beautiful fantasy I carry with me to this day.
And there were other changes afoot. For years Elvis had talked to me about making significant changes in his business and career, from management to his personal staff to re-entering Hollywood in films of substance as a serious actor.
I truly believe that he would have followed through with his dream. Elvis was ready. I had never seen him so focused.
Sadly, forces against him proved to be too much, and Elvis lost his battle. There were many times in 1977, the year he died, that he could have acted on his new-found hope and determination. The tragedy and the great mistake of his life was that, despite the best of intentions, he fell into the trap of procrastination that often keeps us from acting upon what we know is best. The lesson for all of us is: when clarity comes and you know what to do to enhance your life and the lives of others around you, don’t hesitate. Life is too precious and too precarious.
Each of us comes into this life pure and whole, with the full potential of our innate powers.
Our body is the temple of life, and we can all influence our health and our destiny through the choices we make.