I've been quiet lately, uncharacteristically so. I've been thinking about something serious.
Most of us live in a bubble of delusion. We assume we'll live forever, we believe nothing bad will happen to us. Then, life steps in and shatters those illusions.
One of my closest friends was told on Friday he has a brain tumor. They're starting immediate treatment with radiation and chemo, every day for a month. It doesn't look good.
My friend's name is Geoff. He is a vibrant, smart, healthy-looking guy in his mid-forties. I met Geoff fifteen years ago when we belonged to the same motorcycle club. For some reason, Geoff gravitated toward me and is very fond of me. We've stayed close despite his two-year work-stint in England (where he met his lovely wife, Fleur) and his recent move to Maryland. We regularly make efforts to see each other and enjoy each other's company immensely.
Geoff is very smart, a quality I admire in people. He's almost-entirely self-taught because his insouciant attitude didn't mesh well with regimented schooling. Geoff is a cryptographer, which means he designs complicated security to protect huge computer systems (e.g., banks) from being hacked.
Coupled with high intelligence, Geoff has an irreverence to which I am drawn. Geoff whips off witty jokes faster than I can comprehend or stop laughing. He's a real showman and very entertaining to hang around with.
The very idea that such a great guy, in the prime of his life, can be struck down by an illness coming out of left field had me reeling all weekend. I'm struggling with how to handle it.
I came to twin conclusions. The first is obvious -- I will support Geoff in the ways he needs me, with great compassion and care. I will be there for him.
The second is less obvious: it's more a renewal of a prior commitment than something novel. I am re-commiting myself, and urging others like you, to live fully, to savor every moment. To appreciate the precious gift of life we have in front of us. I've been doing that lately with activities like this blog because I've had my own brushes with death. Eight years ago I almost died in a bad motorcycle accident and, as most of you know, I've also lost family members when they were too young. Such experiences force you to face mortality and draw important lessons about the meaning of life. I choose to give my life meaning by helping others and by living as authentically as I can. Being open on this blog and relating to you guys the way I do here is a tremendously significant act in my life. And a deeply satisfying one. We shouldn't lie on our deathbeds ruing what we could have done but didn't.
So, if you've read this far, thank you. Please pay attention to what I'm saying. I learned this lesson at a high cost and hope you can benefit from it. I hate that I may have to confront death again. Geoff is too young to die.