This week the 649 lost one of its riders, a great guy, and a good friend. Ever since there was a life on the 649 for me, there was Dave sitting next to me, sharing laughs, dreams, plans, interests, and of course the ride. Over the last year I have not been working in the city, so I have not had to take the train in. But luckily a few months ago, when I took the train in for a meeting, I ran into him and shared laughs and stories without skipping a beat. That was the last time I saw him.
Dave died this week. He was only 51, leaving behind a wife and two kids, lots of friends and a lot of people wishing to see his smile and good spirit for many more days. He was into his work, getting smarter and finding the best situation. He also was a student and instructor of yoga and meditation. Of course now I wish I had taken a class with him. He had a ready smile and laugh — seeing him and talking to him would make your day better — always.
Sitting outside for lunch with my kids, all I could say was how important it is to live in this moment, since you never know how long we have. Saying this reminded me of a letter I wrote to one of Gregory’s best friends for his kairos retreat. I constantly think of this letter and humbly think it one of the best things I have ever written. I have copied the text below.
“Embrace the moment of now. It is the most important moment of your life. Everything that has happened before is gone, and all that may happen in the future is not here yet. Most people get tied up in the regrets about the past and the worry of the future and it robs them of the beauty and fulfillment of this moment right now. If you make the most of this moment, it will feel like time has suspended, and you are free: free to be you; free to enjoy; free to dive in; free to experience wherever you are and whatever you are doing. Making the most of this moment will only make the next one better. Think about that. No more rushing to the next moment, and likely never regretting those that have passed.
The next thing we want to tell you is to be grateful. You have an amazing life with all you could ever need. Your family is loving, and they care and provide for you. You have good health, and you don’t live in a war zone (except maybe for video games!). Living with an “attitude of gratitude” will change your life. You will see the positive in every situation and you will present yourself to others in a positive grateful manner. You will be treated with kindness when you present gratitude and kindness to others. That is how others will see you, and that is how you will see the world.
Next is faith. This word means so many things but we can use some simple definitions that show the power of faith. To have hope and to believe opens your heart for the miracles that come. Having faith in yourself will give you confidence. Having faith in others will give them your compassion and respect. Having faith in God will open your heart to the wonders that are waiting, to the wisdom that will speak to you, and to the guidance that will save you for all of your life. Having faith makes you humble to the glory of life, love, and God.
Now for some fun. Live a life of adventure! You must take chances, extend yourself, and stretch farther than you think you can possibly grasp! We have come recently to understand that life goes by very quickly, and before you know it 10 years have passed. (That is how long you have lived in your house and how many years we have lived on the east coast. That is crazy, right?). In the Bible and Gospel, we are told to “have no fear.” That is a truth that you must come to understand. Fear is what holds you back, and striving for your dreams becomes the adventure of a lifetime! Go for it!
Two more. Give back to your Community. Making yourself the best you can be is important, and the real gift is when you can share your talents with others. Use your gifts to make the lives of others better. When you give to others, when you make the world a better place, the world will be forever grateful. Can you imagine how nice it would feel for everyone you meet to be grateful for what you have done? Remember the “attitude of gratitude” from earlier in this letter? Just as people will light up when you present yourself with a grateful heart, when you give to others that grateful spirit is presented back to you. This is what it means when they say “when you give, you receive.” And the more lives you touch, the more you will receive.
And lastly, and most important is Love. There are two forces in the world, and those are Love and Fear. At any moment you are either moving towards Love, or moving towards Fear. Love lights you up and is the source of all things good, like happiness, generosity, connection, and joy. Fear wears the mask of doubt, anger, jealousy, and other negative emotions. As we mentioned earlier, have no fear, and live in love. See the best in you and in others. Give others the chance to blossom and do what you can to help. Love God and listen to the wisdom that comes from Him in the quiet voice inside of you. The guidance from Love and from God will always lead you on the right path.”
Dave embodied these principles, and I’ll miss him forever.