It was midnight in January, and the full moon cast its brilliant light over the net of trees and sparkling water as Ray Chimileski and his trained Border Collie Rusty traversed Central Park in New York City, chasing Canadian Geese throughout the park.
And while he recalls the beauty of that night that he compared to a scene from a movie, this was in fact real life for Chimileski, whose work life has undergone a wild transformation–from corporate video producer to Canadian Geese chaser for a wildlife management company.
From 1992 until 2008, Chimileski, a resident of Long Valley, ran a successful corporate communications production company that serviced Fortune 500 companies like Abbott Laboratories, AT&T, BMW, Chrysler, Lucent, Novartis, and Disney, just to name a few.
“We produced cine documentaries and special multi-media productions such as interactive distance learning, for corporations and major government agencies like NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities,” said Chimileski.
As the owner, writer, and producer of VLN MediaWorks, he traveled the world producing for his clients. His travels took him to the United Kingdom, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, and throughout the United States.
When the economy took a dive in 2008, for Chimileski, as for so many others, the plot of his professional life took a completely different direction.
“Overall, we had a good run,” said Chimileski.
He said what he loved most about his work was the creative process and communicating with people from many cultures around the world.
In addition to volunteering his time to handle the coordination of , an organization which he established 11 years ago to help homeless Veterans, he spends three days each week traversing 185 miles by car and five to eight miles on foot with his dog, Rusty, chasing Canadian Geese.
Chimileski gives his partner all the credit.
“Rusty does all the work. The idea is to surprise the geese and keep them apprehensive, then they eventually leave. Dogs resemble their only predator which is the Arctic Fox, native to Canada,” said Chimileski.
He said the Canada Goose is a protected species under the migratory bird treaty between the United States and Canada going back to the 1920's.
His new gig takes him to dozens of locations including city parks, businesses, a university campus, and apartment complexes from Bergen County to Sleepy Hollow, NY.
“It is surprisingly a lot of fun, out in the beauty of nature all year round is invigorating,” said Chimileski.
Despite the fact that running a communications business for 16 years was demanding and kept him extremely busy, Chimileski, who is also an ordained Deacon serving at St. Luke Church in Long Valley, is accustomed to contemplation and reflection.
During his day-long journeys with his dog, he said he focuses on the job at hand, but often finds that he becomes immersed in the beauty around him.
“Working outdoors is very beautiful, especially in the fall and winter. And I have the Hudson River valley for company,” said Chimileski.
Chimileski divides his time between his wildlife management job and coordinating Operation Chillout's outreach to homeless people in ten northern New Jersey counties.
During the summer months, Operation Chillout provides bottled water, new tee-shirts, baseball caps, sunscreen and insect repellent to homeless Veterans. In the winter, the organization provides backpacks filled with necessities needed to survive the brutal cold.
To keep things in perspective and maintain a sense of balance and spirit, Chimileski practices and teaches meditation which he learned from many interfaith teachers including His Holiness the Dalai Lama; Abbott Thomas Keating, a Trappist Monk from Colorado; and Father Laurence Freeman, a Benedictine Monk from England.
He founded The Way of the Good Heart in 1999, a contemplative community that meets at St. Luke’s chapel to meditate together on Mondays from 7 to 8 p.m. all year round.
Reflecting on the economy, Chimileski said he sees serious change ahead.
“We are in the beginning of a new age where many of the ways we remember are dying out. It will take a generation or more until the ‘system’ readjusts itself. People will once again need to see they are interconnected not only here at home but with people globally,” said Chimileski.
He said, “There is a huge transfer of control away from ordinary people into the hands of mega-organizations. National identities are becoming irrelevant due to this mega-economic direction. The poor will grow and one day "they shall inherit the earth" as scripture says.”
How does he feel about the way his life has changed?
“I make every day count," Chimileski said. "I teach meditation and people ask me in spiritual direction for the meaning of life. My stock answer is ‘having a life of meaning.’ Most get it. A few struggle with the answer. A dear close friend just died, only age 59, after a terminal diagnosis gave her a brief month to live. She passed almost to the day that was predicted. We have a limited number of days here, and we need to spend them in the service of those most in need to achieve 'a life of meaning.'”
For more information about Operation Chillout and VLN Media Works, visit the following Web sites: