By Clara Baker
I would like to share a personal story with you in hopes that my honesty will resonate with you and perhaps serve as a call to action. Last week a dear friend of mine named Chick Rose died suddenly and unexpectedly. It is this loss that has prompted me to rethink the ways in which I interact with everyone that I know.
I have never known life without knowing Chick. A best friend of my mother’s for 31 years, and of my father’s as well, he was a friend, mentor and an inspiration to my parents, my brother and I. Throughout the Pacific NW, he is well known in the bluegrass music community as a leader and teacher, inspiring hundreds of kids to play music through workshops, jams and lessons. I am comforted to know his memory and legacy will live on in song.
Since his death, the Facebook profiles of his family and friends have become like internet memorials to him. Quotes, pictures, videos, stories and words of positive encouragement of him are circulating. Something struck me after someone posted a video of an interview with Chick. His son wrote, “Thank you so much for this! To see him and hear his voice is such a precious gift. Why can’t we as people appreciate what we have before it’s gone?”
It is this last sentence that has both haunted and inspired me. People also wrote things like “I hope he knows how loved he was.” Chick was and will continue to be loved, but I wonder how many memories are people sharing now that they had never shared before? Did I ever tell him how much he means to me? Have I ever told all of the people that I love, all the people that inspire me, challenge me, help me, how much they mean to me? What about you?
Last weekend, I attended the workshop on spirituality and nonviolence with the social activist Reverend Glenda Hope. I questioned why we don’t recognize regularly how amazing we each are. Why aren’t we openly, joyfully thankful for one another? Isn’t this hiding of our own gifts and non-acknowledgement of the beauty within others a form of violence against ourselves and each other?
In the Thorton Wilder play “Our Town,” a character revisiting life after her death poses the question, “Do any human beings ever truly realize life while we live it? Every, every minute?” I’m not sure that we do at all.
My thoughts going forward are this: Why not tell the people you love or appreciate or admire how you feel about them? In response to Jon VanTreeck’s article on apathy in issue 7 of the Round Table, are we actually apathetic or has our inspiration faded? I believe we would be more likely to get and stay involved if we recognized our own accomplishments and appreciated one another more. Imagine the inspiration that could come from a little more love.
In reflection of Chick’s death, my brother and I spoke about being able to embrace sadness as a platform to realize and appreciate the complexity of how it feels to be alive. Through this loss, I have regained a new perspective of the preciousness of life. I don’t want it to have to take another death for any of us to be reminded how important it is that we recognize one another for how truly amazing each of us is, while we are living.
I am willing to bet that in ways we can’t even imagine, each of you inspire, challenge and encourage others, that each of you are loved, appreciated and valued. I’m guessing there are people walking all over this campus who inspire you as well. Please take the time to acknowledge the people who inspire, challenge, motivate you. Let them know that you respect, admire, love them. We can’t get any of our time back, and every second counts. Now I leave you with a tiny phrase of wisdom from a song Chick would certainly approve of: “If there’s ever an answer / it’s more love.” – “More Love,” The Dixie Chicks.