Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thoughts on a missing friend..

The motivation to write this book came from the death of my friend Sam, whose passing got me thinking a lot about the way I was living and what I wanted to do with the rest of the time I have here. It ends with the disappearance of another friend, who vanished in the Costa Rican jungle a couple of weeks ago.

His name is David and he craved adventure as much as anyone I’ve even known. When he began his trek into the jungle I was only a short ways away in the capital city of San Jose. He sent me this message upon his arrival into Costa Rica. It may have been one of the last things he ever wrote.

Hey Joe,

Are you still in Costa Rica? If so, how long are you going to be there? I'm coming in this Sunday (August 9th) to Liberia and leaving in the early morning of Saturday August 15th. We should meet up. I'm staying at the Hacienda Guachipelin.

I never responded back to David and I regret that immensely. Having just spent months writing about the interconnectedness of human beings and how there are no coincidences, a friend of mine writes me and wants to connect.

But I am too busy.

I write this not to beat myself up or take some kind of blame for what happened, but to make a point about the importance of nurturing friendships. I thought I would just see him when I got back, or some other time, and continued on with my vacation.

I figured there would be other days.

But there were no other days.

I’ve thought a lot about the “coincidence” of David being so close by to me and what it all means in my personal story. It was certainly a reminder of how we are never promised another day with the people we are close to, and how to never take friendships for granted, but I think there is more. A greater lesson, a more powerful point..

David and I had talked a great deal about spirituality, and we were very much on the same page about finding peak experiences in nature. He was an avid traveler, and we had shared stories about our various journeys and some of the conclusions we had drawn about the power of nature to broaden our understanding of the universe. He was very philosophical about these things, and wrote often about how he had been transformed through his adventures and his experiences.

But strangely we shared another view of spirituality that had a lot more to do with synchronicity and connections between human beings. In one of the earlier essays in this book entitled “Reflections on Spirituality” David wrote this to me after reading it.

“Jung brought me to psychology as well. This sounds like some things I have been thinking about as well lately, especially the part about interconnectedness.”

We both seemed to be wrestling with a lot of the same things. Paradoxically, although we clearly saw spirituality as consisting of the ways in which people helped each other out along the way, we both chose to conduct our searches into the wilderness alone.

I truly wonder what Dave was searching for out there in the jungle, but a big part of me understands, because I have walked alone on the same metaphorical trails. Somehow a trip into the wild helps a person find a place in his soul that provides comfort. When you return, it is often with a kind of new understanding about your place in the world, and how much we really need each other as we stumble through this life together.

But this time David did not return, and I can only hope that he found what it was he was searching for. Terrifying thoughts go through my head as to what may have happened to him out there, but I also know he was devout about meditation and would have been able to calm his mind in even the most frightening of circumstances.

So my one thought for David as he was out there in the jungle, was that he could have somehow seen the thousands of people who had bonded together to help find him, and had spent countless hours planning and hoping and praying for his safe return. I hope he settled into a kind of peace as he looked into his heart and felt, that beyond anything, he was loved. That is my wish…

So although I can’t personally tell David what he meant to me, I can once again vow to do better with the people who are still in my life. Today I was reading a book by Mitch Albom called “For one more day” and came across this quote.

“Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation, one more chance to make up for the time when you thought they would be here forever? If so, then you know you can go your whole life collecting days and none will outweigh the one you wish you had back. What if you got it back?”

So I’ve thought long and hard about my two friends who I’ve lost, and how it's possible I'll never get the chance to have my one more day with them. But I’ve also thought a lot about how I can have my one more day with everyone else in my life. I can return those calls, write those letters, and say the things I want to say before it’s too late.

Because one day it will be…

So David I vow to continue our search for interconnectedness during the remaining time that I have been given. Clearly we were both searching for some of the same things, and I have very much enjoyed what you have added to my own journey. To quote from the movie “A River Runs Through it.

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.”

Some of the words were yours David. And you will be remembered…

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