A few weeks ago, a dear friend passed away. He was one of the people who I had worked with in the music industry who had actually kept in touch. In fact, a few months after I announced I was leaving music to write and to focus on living a healthier life he approached me to say he was thinking of doing the same thing. He had worked in music for years, he had a good job, a nice home, but he felt unfulfilled. He wanted more.
I expressed that he should tread cautiously. At that time, I wasn't sure I wanted to be the person who inspired someone to quit their job and chase their dream - even though that's what I was doing. I talked about savings and security and he agreed that those were important considerations. But the seed was planted.
It took awhile, but he finally quit his job and moved to a tropical island to become a dive instructor. Not a bad dream at all, right? At first I felt a bit weird that I had been an inspiration when he was making the decision to make this huge life change, but as his Facebook page filled up with happy posts and pictures from his new life I started to feel proud of my role. Of course there were lots of people involved in helping him decide to make this change, but I always felt a connection because of our conversations about it.
A few months ago he started updating with news that wasn't so positive - he had been diagnosed with cancer. It was bad. I wrote to him, expressed my hope that all would be well in the end and we kept up a dialogue of positive messages and posts on Facebook. I worried, but he was so alive, so happy leading up to his illness that I could only put my faith in the positive energy that he had. Watching his struggle through social media was so hard - some days he was so very angry and sad, others full of hope. When he passed away it was heartbreaking.
But as much as the loss devastated me I was so glad for those conversations that we'd had about chasing dreams. He had done it - he walked away from security and everything you're supposed to cling to and had lived his dream. Yes, it was cut short, but is it better to have a few years of happiness doing what you love than no years at all? I have to think that it is infinitely better.
I miss my friend. I will always miss him, but I have learned so much from him about the importance of really, truly living. For that I have to be grateful and I think he'd be happy to have left that as his legacy.