Opening your email can sometimes reveal things you never could have imagined. From one moment to the next, your perspective can change, be it for the good or the bad; depending on the news that is brought.
The email I received last night was from a friend of mine, who I was teaching with in India, Paul. He wrote to tell me that another English teacher we both worked closely with, has suddenly come to pass away. His name is Cliff, from the States. A middle-aged jolly traveller, with an approach to life that absolutely everybody could have learnt from. We worked together at the last school I was teaching in (Ebenezer) for 3 weeks. Cliff was one of the reasons I decided to stay for the length of time I did and Paul was another reason. Together we were the 3 musketeers, supporting each other whilst working and living so closely.
The length of time we were working together was relatively short. But when you’re travelling, and when you connect with someone, the level of friendship that evolves is far deeper than many friendships can ever reach, compared to when you’re living a settled life with security in your familiarized surroundings. When you’re travelling, the security is sought in the people you relate to; especially when there’s the instant connection due to a like-mindedness that isn’t always experienced.
He was such a wise man. I looked up to him in many ways and thought about him so often. The words he spoke to me and the advice he gave, never left my mind and they have proven to help me in more ways than he ever realized. He had big dreams and was ever evolving as a person and still so eager to find out how his personal life could serve the larger picture of life in general. He was a big dreamer, and with his 50 years he had enough experience and capabilities to make those dreams a reality. And that’s what he was doing. Yet he reached his fullest potential without even realizing it, by lives he's touched along his many many travels.
Cliff was in Thailand when he passed away. I haven’t heard how it happened. All I know is, he was working as yoga teacher in a resort one of the islands. He was a representation of pure life, of pure soul and of pure freedom. The peace he would unknowingly project would ground anybody is who doesn’t have the natural ability to keep their own 2 feet on this earth. He was rooted into the earth and others couldn’t help but follow suit, in his presence.
Many dosas we ate, many chai we drank, many hours we chatted. I remember the last words I spoke to him when I said goodbye on the morning of the 4th of July (which is when I moved from the school to the ashram he advised me to visit) and those were: “you made my time at Ebenezer complete”. He was shocked to hear me say that. And, quite frankly, so was I. But it was the simply truth. He then gave me the warmest of hugs I ever received while I was in India. I’ll never forget that embrace.
Last night, shock was all I felt. And then I felt suddenly so blessed. I felt so calm and lucky to have spent those weeks with him. That our paths came to cross was something extra special. It’s almost like a loss that I’m privileged to experience, no matter how strange that may sound. Leaving the sadness and the frustration behind when questioning why so soon, why him and why this unfairness has to be felt by the loved-ones he's left behind, I know that the spirit he connected so deeply to has brought him to some amazing place. Because he was simply amazing and had amazing travels, that will definitely not stop now. His presence may no longer be physically here on earth, but he surely left footprints in the sand due to his grounded nature - those footprints have even been set in places he never managed to walk along, Arklow amongst many others.
How precious this life is, and it feels like a smack in the mouth. How precious each day is, and it feels like awareness is rising. How precious each moment is, and it feels then so soothing. So short this life is. When relating this to the quote: “life isn’t measured by the breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away” I can only take along with me the following lesson: aim for every moment to have the potential of taking your breath away, and continuous magic is your life. So, as Cliff did, I shall practise what I preach. He has set an example and I will lead by it.
Paul also said something in his email: "He was one of the best human beings to have walked this earth.."