11/27/2012 04:59 pm ET Updated Jan 27, 2013

Lessons From Geffen

I just finished watching a documentary on David Geffen, arguably one of the most significant figures in American pop culture (since I can remember, anyhow).

Growing up in the 1970s, I was familiar with his name (mostly through the teen magazines that featured his affair with Cher, etc.) but it wasn't until I moved to Hollywood several years later that David Geffen's name represented one of the record labels that every artist wanted to be on.

David Geffen was like many of us who moved out west to make it big, he was different and he was on a mission to fit in. I had my wheelchair and he had his, too (so to speak). But Hollywood is a battlefield and you either come prepared for war or you end up becoming a casualty of that war.

David Geffen came prepared. He was ambitious and he was hungry. His professional reputation was that of a merciless soldier plowing through the combat zone all with a sense of purpose equal to none. Someone said of Geffen, "If he's your friend, he'll do anything for you. If he's your enemy, you might as well kill yourself."

Eventually David Geffen would erase any memory of that awkward Brooklyn boy he left behind, becoming one of Hollywood's most powerful and wealthiest entertainment moguls.

However, not so surprisingly, all of David Geffen's incredible wealth and success could not keep him from seeking therapy (five days a week) to harness the inner demons that had likely been the catalyst propelling him to Mogul Superstar status.

Now in his later life his storm has calmed and David Geffen has become a very important philanthropist lending much of his enormous wealth to charitable causes, many of them AIDS related.

At nearly 70 years old and with many years to reflect upon, David Geffen seems to have sought refuge in a few poignant words that came near the end of the documentary on his life: "I believe everyone dies unhealed."

Wow! Those are powerful words indeed and they are somewhat ironic, too, because no matter where we fall on the social or economic ladder, we all struggle to achieve even a modicum of happiness. Therefore, if Geffen's words are true, which to some extent I believe they are, then life should not be so much about searching for happiness as it should be about how well we manage our unhappiness.

At the end of the day we are all struggling and maybe that's why G-d gave us smiles... so that we can remind each other of what it is we are really struggling for.