Death trivializes everything. In fact that’s the genesis of this blog, isn’t it? The death of my grandmother even trivialized my own life, well-being, and happiness. It gutted me so intensely that I was hell-bent on my own destruction. Death trivializes everything. And death has done it again.
A good friend recently and suddenly passed away—no warning, no chance to prepare. And here is where I oddly and strangely and so incredibly sadly begin the process of switching to past tense when describing how wonderful he is—how wonderful he was. He was my age. He was talented. He was beloved. He had much and many to live for. More than anyone I know, he followed his own path, his own bliss, with a fearlessness and intensity that many could never muster. And it makes no sense. And it makes everything trivial.
I think like most people, I carry around a fairly constant low-grade anxiety, always ready for a catastrophe. Driving down the freeway, I can sometimes imagine what it will feel like if I get in an accident and go through the windshield. If someone raises their voice on the street, my first worry is that they’re going to shoot. But it’s easy to laugh these extreme reactions off because bad stuff like that rarely happens; it’s just a trick of the mind. But that’s not entirely true, is it? Terrible things do happen. And it can happen so suddenly, without expectation, without even time to quickly panic about it. Over a fun dinner with a friend the night before a trip to Disneyland, someone can go to the restroom and never come back.
I can no longer continue to blog about dates. In the shadow of what has happened, writing about my romantic life feels wrong—narcissistic, shallow, and potentially unkind. Many people I love are hurting with his passing, and it’s shaken me.
So I want to return to writing about the thing I started with. I used to call it a search for happiness. But I’m not sure that’s what it really is anymore. “Searching for happiness” all of a sudden seems trivial, too—almost like an avoidance of the dark times in our lives. Those dark times have to mean something. They have to mean something so that we can survive them. So more than happiness, it’s really more about creating that meaning in everything and how to continue to create it in a world that is hard, that is scary, that is terrible, that is beautiful, that is good.
So in honor of Rene, in honor of his unique ability to find the beauty and the sparkle in everything, I rededicate this blog to the search for more than just happiness, but to meaning and purpose and all those lofty things that we’ll never find the answer to, but have to keep on searching. Thank you, Rene—thank you for your art, thank you for the beautiful family you made, thank you for the lessons you taught and are still teaching about how to live well and live fully—it was a short life, but it was beautifully done.