John called yesterday to say goodbye. He’s leaving his life very soon and he is making the passage with grace and dignity to spare. A smart, kind and funny gentleman of the first order.
He is a fine model for how we should live and then leave our lives. No, of course John did not spend every waking moment of his fairly long life doing exactly the right thing. He was, after all, an artist in the midst of the crème de la crème of the European contemporary dance and theater worlds, mostly in France where the wine flowed more than freely and the cigarettes were harsh and satisfying. And surely he wasn’t kind and considerate in all exchanges and on all occasions. However those of us who know him now would swear on a stack of our most treasured volumes, whether historical biographies, philosophical treatises or international murder mysteries that, 99% of the time, John has been living out a practically perfect and definitely secular version of the golden rule.
This is a man who has spent his life caring for people in one way or the other. Enabling them to make their own creations; assisting them on their own journeys out of this world when the time came; always believing in and arguing passionately for the decent treatment of man, beast and earth. John is a humanist who tries hard to believe the best of humankind and never finds it necessary to escape the real world through magical thinking. John is an intellectual who will argue about anything for the sheer pleasure of having to ponder and rebut whatever in the world someone else has got wrong. John is also one of the funniest people I know with a dry, sarcastic but always gentle wit. And John knows just about everything about theater operations, theater lighting and dance. Although, in the latter instance, when he makes that claim there might be room for just the tiniest bit of disagreement.
John has become my role model for how to get out of this life the right way. I will be more vigilant about having my possessions and my finances in order. More importantly I will be generous, decent, respectful and kind. I don’t know just how far I will get with this but when I fail I’ll imagine John looking at me with that look he generally reserves for bad or, worse yet, mediocre dance.
My good friend John has lived a big life–over too soon. We always say that but sometimes it is more true than other times. This time it is so very true. Au revoir then John. No, that doesn’t sound quite right. How about ‘may the force be with you?’ Or simply…we love you. I think I’m safe in saying that on behalf of all of your friends.