This not a traditional tribute. It is in a style that will be unfamiliar to most. A word about the title, “I am not asking for a “moment of silence”. It is not a plea for please, rather it is an explanation of a state and a suggestion for your consideration. There are societal norms that deserve respect, but that is not my concern now. Do not do it for him, his wife or me, but for your own enrichment and understanding.
He was extraordinary in his humility
road pic by Will & Wade
. Well-Founded confidence based in reality and faith is essential for true rather than false humility. The key is not to expand borders, know your limits. This type of confidence allows you to respect others. Respect for others and something bigger than you is the foundation of real humility. People who are weak in spirit and needy should not apply. My friend’s ability to humbly influence was enhanced because he never needed my approval or yours. My friend understood that approvals’ presence or absence said more about you than him. He was a man of faith. I have heard it said “Pray as if your prayer was already answered,” I think the key is to act as if it was answered. To my friend, faith was not about acting or saying the right words; it permeated and was inseparable from the reality of living. This is my understanding of many long conversations and observations that was my good fortune to experience with him. He said I talked like a Yankee, fast and with many words. He verbalized far less and communicated most loudly with the silence between the spoken words. I talked and he taught me how to listen.
My friend never seemed lost. He always knew where North was, but preferred the South. The four cardinal points I would use to describe my friend in reverse order of importance are “Simple, Profound, Positive and Love.
One of the many topics we explored, perhaps, because of our increasing age; was the varying degrees of inevitable decay that accompany the continuation of life in humans and dogs alike. The ultimate culmination of this process returns us to dust. In short, we discussed death. A minor, and yet slightly more relevant point than you might think at first glance, was my dislike for the euphemistic term “passed”. Perhaps the use of such terms to soften the blow of permanent absence for children has merit, but surely there comes a time to put away childish ways. Listening to my friend of relatively few words, it was brought to my attention rather obliquely, a different perspective on passing. Leading a person more by actions than words allows them to think it was their idea. Walking more than talking carries a determinative weight that is lacking in the telling. There is wisdom in the expression “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” I would pair it with the following expression, “trying to push a horse to water or telling him where the water is located is a fool’s errand “. It is possible I made that expression up, not the fool’s errand part, but the rest. The point I believe remains valid. To me and many who remain in our present stage of the living process dead is dead. But to my friend, it is a passing to the next stage. I know he is in a better place. His confidence in this knowledge was core to his ability to accomplish what many aspired to find but few accomplish, seeing the simple in the complex. Building his treasures in things that are safe from thieves, moths, and rust; his positive attitude had a most resilient nature. The precursor to and the result of these qualities was love. It would not be a stretch to say love is simultaneously both the Alpha and Omega. Love, Silence, and Passing represent the ending of what was known and the beginning of what is yet to be experienced. It is popular and important to tell someone you loved them. However, its depth is transmitted in the silence of a look, a smile, or tear.
Einstein changed the world by boiling so much down to the simple equation E=MC^2. It is the ability to find the simple in the complex the separates the genius from the rest of us. It is no less true in life. My friend was a musician and spent his life making beautiful sounds, but even in that, he understood the importance of silence. I always think of him as the space between the notes. Having no musical talent myself, I am informed they are called rests. They give meaning to what is played. In their silence you are not tossed into dead air; no, not the sound of nothing, but instead the fullness of the moment. Reflecting the joy of what was and pregnant with anticipation of what will be. I remember telling my friend I am not sure we have much in common; I am completely devoid of musical ability all I know how to do is listen. He said, “Sounds good to me, when I play, you listen, and you like to talk and I’ll listen”. There was simply no barrier to friendship. He was able to see through the confusion of today’s world and find contentment in the moment. He had no time for tomorrow’s worries or yesterday’s mistakes.
He was known for his positive attitude. His constant refrain when asked how he was doing was “Simply Wonderful”. Personally, I don’t think it was an attitude as much as a deep-seated belief. It was not conscious; it was fundamental to who he was. You don’t ask if a fire is hot, it is its nature.
Love as many traits: it can be unrequited, lost, puppy and inwardly intense; often loud and exciting in its expression. My friend saw its encouraging, quiet qualities as most important. He preferred being the eye rather than the storm. The place where someone could rest, lay down their burdens and collect themselves safe from the chaos of life. His love like still waters ran deep and encompassed him as thoroughly as ambition and greed consume others. My religion calls me to be in the world but not of it. My friend taught me this is not achieved by the rejection of society or even judging it. No, it is about the importance you place on its values. I should say the lack of importance you place on its values.
Matthew 6:25-26 25 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
More than a bible verse to my friend, it guided his life. This kind of lifestyle left little room for planning. He was easy to walk with, but hard to follow. His way is for the few not the many. I will not try to tell what my friend meant to me; he knew. Besides, it is best understood in the silence of the space between the notes.
Transcends time & space, noise & confusion
still heard in the silence & calms my soul