Several days ago, I read of a friend passing in December of 2012. Johnny lived unknown to most. Yet, as a paraplegic, he was a remarkable man. I remember his laughter, love of politics, his guitar music and his smile. He is so much more the man I ever could become.
If one held his hand, he would instantly bond. I cannot explain, but he had something special. He was an instant friend and whenever I was in Southern Illinois one would seek to find him time and again.
I restlessly thought of Johnny these past days. My unease and restlessness was self-created. I traveled near and far. “Ah, too busy,” I would say. “There will be another day.” I convinced myself with lovely phrased internal deceits until the one I miss becomes so deeply missed. My very angst displays the many life lessons remaining to learn.
In watching the movie “Cloud Atlas,” I found some peace. In essence, Cloud Atlas is about the world you see and those you don’t. Six interrelated and interwoven stories span different time periods. But Cloud Atlas’s riveting story lines and nonstop action veil weighty lessons about bigotry, oppression and resistance. All things are interconnected.
For the true Buddhist, everything is interconnected. The crux of our own individual story is that every action has a reaction. Maybe our role changes throughout life. Maybe we learn one lesson at this moment while learning another more poignant time changing experience another. Does this sip of whiskey that currently nips my lips impact my life now as much as it does later? Can we carry love and hatred forward at the time our death? And more importantly, does one believe all living creatures experiencing awareness deserve an awakened life, either now or forever? Will I connect with those whom I’ve lost and loved somewhere between here and heaven? Will I remember Johnny for all his strength and love of life?
In truth, to condense such a wonderful man into a homily of words seems next to impossible. Yes I will remember Johnny. I will remember his life, and want to see him again, again and again.
So Johnny, in the words of David Mitchell: