On Death

Originally published on 7/22/15

I feel like death has been a big topic in my most recent public writing.  Even in my not-public writing.  I am seemingly becoming somewhat seasoned in handling it.  My last public entry, however, was after watching Marco Simoncelli die on live television — not someone I knew, but someone who I admired and had photographed and was hoping to see blossom into a seasoned veteran of his sport.  On top of that, I lost both parents, and two grandparents.  There have been others, but none so public and none so poignant.

Today I received the news that a good friend of some of my friends has passed on, also doing what he loved.  This was an individual I had met through my climbing gym a handful of times and I knew that he was a super awesome dude.  His moment was also captured on camera, as part of a sport that he loved and lived for.  Life is dangerous sometimes.

I’m not going to go into details about the what, where and how; nor will I discuss the inherent risks that some of us take to do the things that free us.  Rather, this sobering day requires more of a reflection of life in general.  I had a conversation today that revolved around this, and how much risk we are all willing to take to do these things — these things that we must do, purely for the goodness and health of the soul; things that appeal to the depths of our being, like nothing else can.

Do we all really know what these things even are?  I am still discovering this.  Well into my 30s and I am only beginning to learn what honestly moves me, frees me, and swells my soul into the size of a mountain.  How is it that only now I am learning what grows my spirit?  What puts the biggest smile on my face?  What makes my heart sing?  If I have learned anything from knowing people who are considered “extreme athletes” it is that there is no time to waste.  Recently something occurred to me:

Everything we do is to fill the space between birth and death.
Do what makes you feel good.

On this note (and on a very personal and sensitive one), I watched both of my parents suffer deeply as they passed from this world to the next, and both were in pain, both had regrets.  My parents sacrificed much for each other, for me, for what they thought was the “correct” direction for life.  I don’t wish to speak ill of either of my parents, for I loved them dearly and they were both wonderful individuals.  I want to say one thing though — that if I had known what suffering their ends would bring, I would have pushed them out the door to do the things they always spoke of, but never “got around to” doing.  It is cliche, but I am now going to say something I believe to be very important, and I want you, dear reader, to really think about it; take it to heart, if you will:  Do not, under any circumstances, put off what you know will touch your soulDo things.  Go places.  Get a wild hair up your ass to try something new and do it. Don’t miss out on life.  Do things that might kill you, and do them with a big fat smile on your face.  Don’t ever, ever, sit around one day and wish you had done something that would bring you joy.  You cannot take back regrets. 

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