Loss is never easy to live with. Nor is learning to be alone without your mentors easy to accept.
A few years ago, I lost my direct superior at work in a tragic mountain accident in Norway.
He was a very special man who knew how to take a group of puzzle pieces that could / that should never fit together and make it work. He was a person that could make you think differently when the worse hurricanes were tearing at your door. He was a man that believed strongly that you built a healthy and concrete future by planting small seeds, but each seed one at a time.
On that day, I was not the only person whose heart was torn out. Partner’s suffered immense loss, families discovered their loved ones were no more for other ‘more than life’ men hearts stopped that day. Extraordinary men tend to enjoy the company of extraordinary men, and on that day, far up in beautiful Norway, it was the case.
I, it’s true to say, were more a distant watcher to the unfurling event that day. Compared to others, I had lost a work colleague fondly appreciated, someone with whom early most morning I could have a private moment to discuss work, family, hobbies, worries even, while I poured my coffee as he, my mentor, would use my (long term) borrowed metal kettle to heat up his tea, running around loudly at the same time with over-infused energy…
I still remember those mornings very fondly. I miss them.
For on that day, his partner, his friends, and all those special people he had imbued with his endless energy to make good, myself included: the world foundered.
My darkness was difficult to live with, it took a long time to find my way, lost as I was without his precious guidance I had so often taken for granted. For others, though hidden, it must have been far worse. But I am not going to go there, grief and loss is a private thing.
But time allows us to step back, to see that in our actions a bit of that endless energy has spread its good into our hearts, that planting seeds for good will broaden and allow others to see that it’s not immediate gratification that makes the difference but the will to nurture the seedling, watch the first leaves grow, and finally have the courage to let it go, make its own way out of the ground and into life.
When you realise that the world all around you is imbued with beauty, when you look back fondly on those times you realise you were going from a state of being a person in need of guidance and reassurance, unsure to make his own steps in the world, to someone new born, used to wholesome loneliness, learning to find advice through discussion and debate with people of all ages, remembering ‘sound advice’ initially overstepped, and finally finding the courage to make your life your own.
Yes, on that day, the person I once was started a new journey. I became a stronger person, a better man. I know now that the world can crumble but I will stay strong and resolute. I will live my life not in lost loneliness – that disappears after a while – but instead as a gardener who will imbue those around me with a philosophy where planting seeds, and watching those seeds grow helps us build a world worth living for – and yes – a world where you know the seeds you have yourself planted may surpass you one day and continue to spread the importance of knowing that nothing is built in one day, nothing is immediate, for to succeed you have to… nurture, help, guide, teach strength and be charitable. That, surely, must be the greatest gift you can leave behind. My mentor did, and for this, I will always be ever grateful to him.
One thing is sure, as another great man, Winston Churchill, once said a phrase I find inspirational – I did then, but now, I see it in a different light – I will: “Never, never, never give up.”
I have taken a path. I don’t know where that path will take me, but what I do know is that that path will lead me to a better self and a healthier life, for me, those around me, and those I may inspire. Today, I am not scared anymore, I am not lonely. I am resilient. My core may know doubt at times like a stalk battered in the wind, but I will not waiver. I will follow my path, wherever it may take me. I will “Never, never, never give up.”
I was a precious seed, I was left to grow into a stalk in a more brutal fashion that I could ever hope for.
Today, I am no seed, not any more. But I have work to do, I have taken a pledge.
I thank you ‘Alain’ for all you have given. I now know that you were wise beyond any man I have ever known. Your energy, your legacy, is not lost — I and others, each day ensure that the world around us is imbued with it.
A note on the above picture:
The above photo is the last picture Alain took and sent to his Partner Christine, minutes before he started his last skiing descent that led to his ‘Ascent’. I wish to thank Christine – from the bottom of my heart – for her permission to use this very personal, and very beautiful picture. A picture that captures so well all the beauty Alain gave to our world.