Thursday, December 30, 2010

Being There

Not Just Another Stupid Resolution

I’m not one that’s big on New Year’s resolutions.  In fact, I like to be a contrarian and do strange things like starting a diet on December 1st, just to be different.  But, this year, recent events have shaken me to the point that I am willing to lay down my preconceived notion about the futility of January 1 resolutions.  What has so moved me?  Sadly, it was the death of a friend.

Have you ever been so fortunate to cross paths with a person who is completely “there” when you are with them?  So many of us are busy with our mind elsewhere.  Some of you even have the audacity to stop midsentence to join a different conversation on your electronic gadgetry (you know who you are).  But, there ARE those rare individuals who have an uncanny ability to stop their minds from wandering and really just be there with you.

Christopher Smith was one of those rare birds.  People who knew him very well and those of us who knew him from work all say that he was a special soul.  Yes, he was smart, funny, generous, warm… But, I could say that about several of the amazing friends I have.  What set this person apart was this unique gift he had to always make me feel like he had been looking forward to talking to me, even when the meeting was merely chance.  He looked me in the eye and we talked about real stuff in the midst of whatever chaos we found ourselves in.  When I would arrive home from one of the various political events and someone would ask who was there, the name “Christopher Smith” would come first to mind.  It wasn’t until he died a week ago that I realized he may have often been the only one in the room who was 100% “there.”

I think the world needs more of this, not less.  So as I ponder his death on the day of his funeral, I am choosing not to get caught up in the tragic way his last 6 month of life were spent or the ghastly way he was murdered.  Rather, I am remembering the last time I spent time with him.  And, I am regretting that I wasn’t totally “there” when he took the time to walk along with me as I left the groundbreaking ceremony. He told me about the health issues he was struggling with as a result of taking some cholesterol drug.  I didn’t really “hear” him when he told me he was in so much pain at one point that it was debilitating.  I was in such a hurry to jump in my car that day that I didn’t simply stop and be there.  I gave some sincere comforting words (probably clichés) and let the flurry of activity surrounding the launch of Congressional campaign distract me from taking more time with a friend who was struggling.  Looking back, I can’t even remember if I offered to help or even pray for him.  For that lapse, that incredibly self-absorbed response, that wasted opportunity, I have deep regret.

So, my New Year’s resolution is going to be in Christopher’s honor.  I am going to do my best to try and fill the void left in the world by this special man.  And, because I will undoubtedly fail miserably to fully replicate his gift, I am calling on my fellow Americans to do the same.  Maybe if we all try a little harder to live in the moment and fully “be” right where we are, there would be a lot more folks walking around feeling validated and appreciated and a little less lonely.  Let’s really be with those who take the time to be with us.

On Christopher's Facebook page, his profile reads this "I aspire to be a leader, a man of honor, a man of vision, a man of passion, a man of faith demonstrated by action, a true and loyal friend and a defender and promoter of liberty." I believe he accomplished it. May we all aspire to do the same… Rest In Peace, my friend.

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