The further I journey down life’s bumpy, unpredictable road, the more I’m convinced that each of us is put here to help our fellow travelers. My life in the music industry hasn’t been a typical one, but the lessons I’ve learned along the way are relevant to everyone, no matter what their walk of life, religious beliefs or upbringing. As I reflect on the pivotal turning points in my life, I see clearly that each involve the primal forces of fear and love. I don’t necessarily mean fear of the reaper or some menacing figure standing in the shadows of a dark alley. I’m talking about fear of taking chances, of striving to reach personal potential, of articulating our needs and desires. When I think of love, I don’t automatically imagine a soul mate or the classical romantic vision of the emotion. To me love is all about one human being caring for another and giving selflessly to enrich the relationship.
When I felt paralyzed by fear, I learned to rely on love to liberate me. My life has hinged on my ability to battle fear with love, compassion and understanding and to become the person I was born to be, not the person I was raised to be. Since my greatest experiences have come as the result of sharing and giving, I offer these insights as gentle reminders, not thunderbolts. They might easily come under the heading “common sense”, yet I’ve found that the simplest truths often get overlooked or undervalued because they’re so basic everyone takes them for granted. Of all the lessons I’ve learned over the years, the most important is that fear is just another four letter word—no more, no less.
I was raised in Brooklyn, New York by a family of modest means, yet I learned to dream big. One of the first lessons I grasped was that dreams are as important to our spiritual health as food is to our bodies. As I progressed through childhood, adolescence and became an adult, I realized that fear causes us to sacrifice our dreams in an attempt to get along in the world. This is a mistake I hope to help others avoid making.
Because I grew up a scared kid who was awkward and shy I had a problem expressing myself, yet I’ve found that the only way to communicate with others is to speak your mind—tell them what you feel, think and, most important, what you want. As a behind-the-scenes executive in the music business I routinely put my own needs behind those of the demanding, high profile artists I represented. I was afraid of being put down or ridiculed. It’s taken me years to figure out that my desires are every bit as important as theirs and I no longer allow myself to take a back seat.
This doesn’t mean I’m immune to the problems of my friends, clients and family. Just the opposite. My rewards have come more from helping others resolve their issues than from any killing I’ve ever made in business. I believe there are no accidents in life, yet I think most of us don’t grasp the significance of the interconnection between people and events. Our experience gives value to our existence and we draw on our reserves when we feel depleted. It’s sort of like a savings bank. If you make regular deposits, there’s something there when you need to make a withdrawal. It’s how karma operates.
The truths I’ve discovered about the entertainment industry, the world of high finance and, perhaps most significant, family dynamics, have all been based on simple human values and the ways in which we try to communicate with each other. That’s where most problems begin and where each of us can benefit from choosing our course of action before embarking upon it.
My experiences in life are like treasures to me. Whether they’ve involved high profile people or ordinary citizens, the lessons I’ve learned from each have been equally important. When I pass them on to those around me and they have a positive impact, I’m immensely satisfied. Because the lessons I’ve learned have come through trial and error, I’m quite comfortable sharing them. I’m not asking anyone to accept that I’ve had some privileged communication from God or that I awoke one morning having had a vision that will change the world. I’ve lived my life in a practical, pragmatic way, yet I’ve always been keenly attuned to its spiritual and metaphysical dynamics. I enjoy using astrology as a tool to help better understand human interaction in the universe.
I don’t seek to restrict my options, I look to increase them. That begins with self-exploration and understanding. If I can help just one other person in their attempt to grow and live a fuller, happier life, I’ve succeeded. Several decades on this elliptical sphere we call Earth has taught me a lot. If I’ve learned anything it’s that each of us can make a difference. Celebrity, wealth, power and connections are not requirements for effecting change. I am an ordinary citizen living an extraordinary life and I’m proud to note that I’ve often helped make a difference simply by speaking up and making my voice heard. I’m sure if anyone took an inventory of their life, they’d be able to discover many of their own examples. As I’ve shared my life’s experiences with friends over the years, I’ve often heard, “Barry, you should write a book.” Well, I finally have gotten to it and now I hope to take the lessons I’ve learned along the way to an audience I’ll get to know and call friend as our dialogue continues.