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Saturday, February 26, 2005

only a part

I will tell you one small story about him, Clyde. We drove to the beach on a weekday. Probably we were cutting from high school. It was winter. At the beach in those days there were no condominiums or cars, just empty beach and the waves and sea birds and dunes and wind. We took off our shoes and walked out to where the waves thinned down to sheets of water with a foamy edge reaching toward us, and we let the water cover our feet. And it was so cold! So cold that it hurt! I couldn't get my feet out of it fast enough! And even then, my toes continued to ache from the cold. But Clyde had the exact opposite reaction. The intensity of it, the way his body instinctively tried to pull away, made it a challenge that he wanted to face. He wanted to go into the water! And feel the incredibly cold wave crash over him and chill him like a tickle that reaches inside. It was a playfulness between him and the cosmos, his response to the cold sea.

He was always his own person, never following anyone. He had an amazing intellect and a unique, infectious appreciation for life. Our lives took us in different directions, but still it was a shock that he died. I went to the service. It was a very strange experience, as if there wasn't much to share, just emptiness. His spirit should be celebrated, I thought, but the service was by his mother and sister and it was for them, really, as they seemed to be the ones he was close with in his final stage of life. So I stayed silent too, leaving the spell unbroken. But then I realized over the following weekend, the world has lost some of its magic. I will surely gain some magic of a different sort. It is not running out of magic. But it lost the source of his kind of magic, which made a difference in my life when we were friends and ever since. And so it always goes in this world, ever changing.

And then after the weekend passed, another Monday came to the Clydeless world. I felt, walking to work, a renewed kinship with the quiet spirits of the world, with the street bricks and iron manhole covers, spirits that are strong in their silence. And still contemplating Clyde’s death, I thought about the purposes after life. For example trees grow in vibrant colourful beauty, but after they are dead, they continue to have a purpose in the world, sometimes for much longer than their lives lasted, as wood in buildings and furniture. And so it is with people, too. For example, poetry and paintings can be appreciated for centuries. Similarly, a friendship can continue to influence your life long after it is passed, even after the friend is gone. What we think of as life, the active, blooming stage of it, really is only a part

Thanks to Do for showing me how the pieces fit together...

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