Excellence Reporter: Richard, what is the meaning of life?
Richard Schooping: The question is the answer. We simply don’t know. Source doesn’t know as it has no source. If it did, it could not be a source. So one will search for the meaning of life eternally, only to find themselves.
We are all born biologically diverse. We call it IBD, Individual Biological Diversity. The very uniqueness of creation. The intelligence of itself. If we were all born exactly the same it would be a nightmare, and adaptation would cease. There could be no evolution. So this diversity is necessary for the expansion of creation.
Sadly, from birth, each individual is forced into a collective past we call belief. Some succeed within this belief, most do not. This forced acceptance is the source of psychological trauma, or what we call society.
The meaning of life is to find one’s diversity and live it fully. It does not recognize death as an ending, but the very source of its eternity. Creation consumes itself as aging, which creates evolution, and in our perceived notion of death which is nothing more than the changing of seasons as one season.
The meaning of life? We don’t know, and never will. This is the ultimate form of compassion.
~Richard Schooping was born in Maitland, Florida – a small suburb north of Orlando. He was born into a family of musicians. His grandfather was a minister and stroke survivor for the Presbyterian Church who wrote hymns for the church. Richard’s father was an accomplished jazz musician who played piano, wrote his own scores, and had his own band that played on the Space Coast in the 60’s through the 80’s. It was only natural to Richard to become musically inclined as well.
Richard’s mother introduced him to language and theater, where he was awarded children’s singing roles in local musical productions; Oliver, The Music Man, were just some of the few musicals in which he sang.
When not performing, sometimes he would go with his father to the club and lay under the piano listening to the sets his father’s band played.
When he was a teenager he formed his own band with local friends – Alter Ego. They toured in Florida, Georgia and eventually an International stop in Mexico. Richard was writing music and lyrics for the band to play. Richard was also lead vocalist. It wasn’t long until the band was warming up for national acts that came to Orlando – like Marilyn Manson, Glass Tiger and the Psychedelic Furs.
It was during this time Richard was leading two lives. One as the straight lead singer of a rock band and one as a gay man caring for his dying partner at home, unbeknownst to anyone but his family. This dual life was incredibly taxing and draining.
Richard had to leave his band to dedicate full time care to his first dying husband. The pressure became too much as he would watch not one, but three husbands, in succession, pass from AIDS over a decade. He also witnessed many friends succumb to disease. He was also juggling bills, having no money, stressed from being a partner, nurse, and more. The family added pressure through in-laws arguing over his partner’s wills and material property. As a result his own musical career went on hold, as well as he dropped out of college. Richard worked part time jobs to make ends meet.
Richard was diagnosed in 1993 with AIDS after his third partner passed and he took HIV medications on and off for several years. Medications back then were more toxic (AZT) and so powerful they put Richard in dark mental places with severe psychical side effects. AIDS, at that time was defined as having less than less 450 t-cells.
On his healing journey, Richard was called within to an Eastern perspective – meditations, yoga, and peacefulness. And for several years he did quite well. But a series of accidents and illnesses slowly chipped away at his health (broken collar bone, fistula, pneumonias, basal cell cancers, depression, weakness, and waning concentration) which left him unable to work. He went on disability.
He wrote music throughout his journey, and also his first book “From Suffering to Soaring”: a book pointing towards his awakening epiphany.
He wrote during those dark times not only to record his life, but also aimed at helping others awaken. Despite the experienced horrors, music still brought joy to his heart. He started HIV medications when he was first diagnosed. After several years on them he felt better and stopped the HIV medications.
He was better enough to work part time and enjoy life again. He was able to travel and sing at local churches. But, eventually the rug was pulled out from under him again as he was not able to concentrate and had bouts of incontinence. He quickly lost his ability to speak and walking became difficult. He refused to take HIV meds, even after several doctors begged him to start back on medications to save his life.
His experiences on them were terrible and numbing. At this time his T cell count was zero.
After a 44th birthday vacation to his family (he was living in Royal Oak, MI and traveled back to Orlando) he had no choice, he needed help so he decided to take HIV medications – his life depended on it. He was admitted to the hospital back in Michigan where the doctors were perplexed with his case and called around the country for advice. He had a mysterious encephalitis – which has symptoms similar to a stroke. He could no longer walk or talk. His left arm pulled tightly to his chest, he was crumbling. He started medications and they seemed to help him gain some strength. After a week’s stay in the hospital he was released to a rehab facility for 3 weeks of intense therapy (occupational, physical, and speech). He was released to go home and worked tirelessly on exercises to increase his range of motion and his spirit. He attempted music, but the keyboard was no longer his friend, computer programs were not understandable, and his concentration was gone. He slowly had to build up his voice to talk. Singing was difficult and took years (which he is still attempting to get back to his former self) and may never be able to. He works on digital art which he shares and sells to keep his mind busy and keep the creative flow going.
He has joined church choirs, and a Kirtan group to share and assist in his singing practice.
He will not give up.
He writes songs, designs giving gear to support world needs, websites and makes music videos.
He loves nature and gardening.
His compassion has only deepened throughout his journey which has birthed We Are Overlap with his soul brother Robert Sidebottom.
His life is one of Mercy, Compassion and Unity.
©Excellence Reporter 2021
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