My dear friend Michael Abedin, publisher, author, editor, and so much more, passed away last month. I wrote this article for the tribute issue of his magazine, Austin All Natural:
“Take Your Time in a Hurry”
As Fast as Wayne Newton, As Slow as Wyatt Earp
By Dr Joe Vitale
“Can I see the revolver?”
I’ve known Michael over ten years. We’ve shared everything from Cuban cigars to old Scotch, fast cars to great books, spirituality to marketing, Reiki to Bach Flower Remedies, to our lives personal ups and downs. He was the greatest storyteller I ever knew.
I had him MC my events, like Attract Money Now Live and the Advanced Ho’oponopono retreat. He was also the MC when I performed as a singer-songwriter on stage at The Townsend in Austin with my Band of Legends. He also published my feature articles for more than ten years, and put me on the cover of his magazine, Austin All Natural, more times than I can recall.
We got together often, and shared our struggles and triumphs, usually over a bottle of aged Scotch.
Once Michael visited my home and wanted to see the old Colt six shooter I own. It used to belong to actor and bodybuilder Steve Reeves. It was part of my collection of Reeves memorabilia. I had the revolver and the leather belt Reeves wore in spaghetti western movies like A Long Ride from Hell. Michael knew it and was eager to see it.
Michael put on the belt and put the gun in the holster. It fit his tiny waist. He looked ready to be in a Quentin Tarantino movie.
He walked around with attitude, the leather gun belt low on his hip, and looked like he was about to step into the O.K. Corral. With his long hair, boots, and jeans, he fit the part of old cowboy. Or an eccentric modern one.
Being Michael, he repeated advice from Wyatt Earp.
“Fast is fine but accuracy is final,” Michael said, paraphrasing the famous gun-slinging sheriff. “In a gun fight, you need to take your time in a hurry.”
“Take your time in a hurry.”
Michael and I loved the phrase.
It was a Zen-like reminder for every aspect of life: slow down but be aware.
Act but be present.
We both had a drink of Scotch to toast the old lawman and his wisdom.
“Have you ever fired it?” Michael asked, holding the Colt.
“Never,” I said. “It’s just part of my Steve Reeves collection. I never intend to actually use it.”
Michael stood and practiced his fast draw. While he convincingly looked the part, he wasn’t ready to be in a duel. He fumbled several times. The gun seemed to stick in the holster. Michael looked frustrated. He really wanted to get this right.
He tried a few more times, doing his best to consciously will himself to be calm. He wanted to “take his time in a hurry.” He used his three decades of martial arts experience to center himself.
But he still withdrew the revolver too slow or too fumbling.
In a real gunfight, he’d be smoked.
“Pretend you’re Wayne,” I suggested.
“Wayne who?” he asked, his hand on the pistol.
“Wayne Newton,” I replied.
Michael stopped, his mouth agape, his eyes searching mine for meaning.
“Wayne Newton?” he repeated, baffled.
“I mean Wyatt Earp.”
“How did you get Wayne Newton out of Wyatt Earp?” he asked.
I shrugged. I didn’t really know. I was just trying to get him to loosen up.
I pointed to the now half empty bottle of Scotch.
Michael shook his head, took a deep breath, calmed himself, and pulled the gun out of the holster. It was smooth.
“Be slow in a hurry.”
He did it again.
Once he had the maneuver down pat, he stopped. But he spent the rest of the evening wearing the gun belt. We sat at the kitchen table, finishing our bottle of Scotch, talking, sharing, all with the gun on his hip.
On one level, it was surreal.
On another, it was simply Michael being Michael.
I loved him.
I miss him.
I comfort myself thinking Wyatt Earp, Steve Reeves and a long line of other greats, are gathered around Michael and listening to his stories. Maybe even watching him practice his quick draw.
And him reminding them, “Take your time in a hurry.”