When I heard that my friend died on Monday I began to construct my shell.
For the longest time I chose to react toward bad news by constructing a shell around me, to protect me from harm.
After a while I realized that the shell does two things.
In one way it protects me from feeling pain.
But in a more important way it separates me from my own life. It distances me from people, places, and events. It creates a chasm between my heart and the world.
There came a point in my life when I realized that I wasn’t interested in constructing the shell anymore.
I was tired of cultivating disconnection and hungry to reconnect to everything.
So now, when I find myself slowly but surely constructing my shell again, I make sure to stop and let myself feel whatever it is that I am trying to avoid feeling.
It will always balance itself out. The pain won’t last forever. Neither will the joy.
Everything flows by.
So I chose to stop constructing my shell, and I shed a few tears for my friend. And then I began to think about who he was.
He was a man of integrity. He lived his truth, and he completely understood that his life was created by the choices that he made.
He was an authentic man, an authentic human being who cared deeply about his passions.
He worked very hard in this life, and he made hard decisions. Men like him are few and far between. He lived his life exactly how he wanted to.
He created his life from scratch with the sweat of his brow.
He was a strong man and he was also a kind man. He didn’t suffer nonsense easily, that is true. I imagine, as a man who lived by his word, that foolishness and wasted time grated on his nerves.
But he was honest. And his honesty resonated with people.
Now I mourn his loss. It will be sad not to see his smile at yoga class anymore. It will be sad not to hear him talk about his vegetables or his chickens or his pigs. Those who partook of his gifts of food and nourishment will be at a loss in the coming years.
We have lost someone who created treasures, but now we must continue to create our own.
Yesterday was the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year with the longest night.
Now, each day will be a little brighter. Finally, spring will explode into vibrancy, and life will emerge from death.
Maybe the only thing we can do to ease the pain of a loss is to hold the soul of those that we lose close to our hearts, and let them become part of who we are.
The best way that I can think of to honor the spirit of my friend Ken is to live my truth daily and without compunction.