Saturday, January 7, 2012

Remembering Jaron: Five Years On

"We all have our time machines.  Some take us back: they're called memories.  
Some take us forward: they're called dreams."  -Jeremy Irons

2005, the day before Jaron's business school graduation, and two days before I decided to buy a bike, learn to swim, and start training for an Ironman.  
My father likes to say that life has a way of giving us just about as much as we can handle.  At times that strikes me as unduly optimistic, as wishfully ascribing purpose to the immutable forces against which we each wage a deeply personal struggle.  The circularity can seem excruciatingly apparent: if life gives us exactly as much as we can handle, it is only because we've no choice but to handle exactly what life gives us.

Five years ago today, my younger brother Jaron passed away, suddenly, terribly, and avoidably.  He'd done nothing reckless or improvident; quite the contrary, he had just made the most considered decision one can make by asking his girlfriend to accompany him through life.  Yet literally days later, he was taken from us only through careless, dismissive acts by those in whom we place our deepest trust at our moments of greatest vulnerability.  Life ultimately gave him no chance to handle his situation, and afforded his fiancée no choice but to attempt to fathom answers that would not be forthcoming.

We cannot grasp fully the ways in which our past shapes, motivates, and explains us.  We are each a product of granular experiences accreted onto a substrate of philosophy and will.  Ten million small eddies meld into an irresistible torrent that propels us forward to face experiences and adventures unknown.  We're captains of boats with unreasonably small rudders, crewed by an infinite number of monkeys.

Yet sometimes we find ourselves, despite it all, in the presence of undeniable grace and wonder so powerful, and so unexpected, that it summons tears at the impossible, profligate beauty of life.

Jaron, 2006, skydiving into metaphor.
Perhaps all we can do is to hold our hearts open so that we might recognize and embrace these fleeting moments before they pass.  Sometimes we're so consumed by thoughts of the future that the present is but a flickering torch, one inevitably insufficient to pierce the distant shadows.  Immediately surrounding us, however, is the world of awe that we have been given, and that we must treasure.  To lower our gaze is to behold the distant stars.

I miss ya, buddy.  Every day.