I am writing this for my Camp Akiba Family, or as we like to call each other, Akibites.
On October 2, 2014, Michael Goldberg left this earthly plane. He fought hard against cancer for many years. I am grateful that I got the chance to see him at the Akiba Reunion of 2004. I do not know much details about the life that he lead over the past twenty years, but I do know that he had a huge impact on my life as well as many others during the time he spent at Camp Akiba throughout the 1980’s. He remains an influence on me to this day.
As a kid I had the chance to spend time with Michael. He was a creative force. I remember seeing my father and Michael working together and writing camp skits and programming special events. My father loved Michael, as did all of us who were in his presence. Michael had boundless energy, a great sense of humor and loved to have fun. He was the first staff member that I looked up to at Akiba. He wore his hair long, was artistic, and spent the majority of his time on Girls Side of Camp. Michael was just as comfortable socializing and hanging out with Boys Side of Camp too. He was the kind of person that could hang in any social situation. That was cool as shit to me.
I am blessed that Michael was supportive and encouraging of my drumming. I can remember the first summer when I was twelve years old and playing with my father in the camp band. Michael was right there cheering for me and giving me support and love. This love and support would continue for several summers to follow.
Each summer that I returned to camp, one of the first people that I would seek out would be Michael. I couldn’t wait to tell him about my year and show him how much better I had gotten on the drums. He would share with me all that he had been up to, and I was always inspired to learn about a Philly Boy who was making his way into the world and pursuing his dreams. I thought, “if he can do it, I can do it”.
The experience with Michael that I will most cherish happened after I had stopped going to Akiba as a camper. It was the summer of 1991, the third summer that I had not been at Akiba. I made the choice to not work at camp as a counselor, because I was committed to practicing the drums for a good three to five hours per day. In addition, I was working professional gigs, and I knew that I had to sacrifice being at Akiba in order to pursue music seriously. My heart was always heavy in the summers, and I longed to be at Camp.
I made the drive from my parents house in PA up to Akiba for visiting day. Low and behold, Michael Goldberg was their visiting also. He had come to camp for the weekend of visiting day to help out and oversee the programming of the special Extravaganza Weekend legacy that he would leave behind when he stopped working at Akiba two summers before. I was elated to see Michael as I had not seen him in years.
But what made this experience legendary and epic for me, was that I got to drive Michael home from Akiba to his parents house in Northeast Philly. Here I was finally an adult, or at least a young adult at the age of twenty, and I was getting to hang with Michael! Two Akibites. Just me and him, alone for a two hour drive, shooting the shit. But you see, it was so much more than idle small talk. We got deep. We spoke about life. Creativity. Enlightment.
I was questioning him on the concept of time, and how I felt like life was moving fast, and perhaps even passing me by. He said, “Adam, time is perspective. You see that tree? If you and I were to sit down under that tree and just look at one another and be silent, it would feel as if time was slowing down and we had all the time in the world. Adam, time is what you make of it.”
Now, as a grown man with a family and career of my own, those words that Michael Goldberg laid on me almost twenty five years ago ring true, as clear as the sunset reflecting off of Akiba Lake. “Time is what you make of it”.
Thank you Michael Goldberg for modeling what it looks like to live a life to the fullest, with humor, strength, courage, love, and compassion.