August 15, 2008
When remembering your life and death Jim, I am compelled to disregard my standard perceptions of time, a soul such as yours stretches far beyond such worldly limitations. Time was not boundary to you, nor a frame of reference; rather it was a vehicle, a tool, and an ally you used efficiently and without mercy. Foolishly I say to myself, your death was premature, a tragedy, so much potential, so much promise… however, I know better… your impact, your influence, your accolades, and your creations, all you have accumulated in the mere twenty four years allotted to you… all these things of which I speak would take an ordinary man a lifetime to achieve, and that is a modest estimation. There is no stick, no bar, no precedent, nor comparison that could quantify your existence in any meaningful way.
Were it my choice Jim, you would live to be 99, however, I’m afraid if that were the case this earth would falter; surely it would be silenced by your voice, humbled by your laughter, and finally broken under the weight of your love. In short Jim, your time here on this earth was simply too beautiful for this world to handle.
Steven Tran showed me a poem you scribbled down on some scratch paper which you no doubt stuffed into your pocket and soon forgot about. It was short, simple, but beautiful none-the-less. One line stood out to me as particularly appropriate to your life. It reads “…fool for love, and all is illuminated.”
You used to say to me when we would go out for drinks, “I’m really into this girl, Shep”, or “Shep, I think I love her.” I believed you. I was excited for you, and I responded to you, “That’s awesome Jim, I’m really stoked…now give me that cell phone and you’ll get it back in the morning.” [laughter] And he would hand it over. That was our thing. That phone was kryptonite. You were always a helpless fool for love, the brightest fool I ever knew, sometimes a little too bright for the rest of us.
Who can forget your nervous ticks, so anxious, so endearing; the rubbing of the thighs, the pushing of the hair across the head, the twitching of the leg, all those awkward noises. I know the truth Jim, I know why; your life was a constant suppression of that love protruding outwards from your heart, but like a volcano sitting atop a fierce and tumultuous core beneath, you erupted from to time in a thigh rubbing frenzy. You restrained and transformed your outpouring of love so it could be compatible with our norms, so that we could be comfortable with it. You love us, all of us, unconditionally, but mercifully. I only wish we all had the same capacity for love that you did.
I speak for myself, although I’m certain I speak for others, when I say my life is a constant balancing act; on one hand, the fulfillment of my individual passions, desires, dreams; on the other hand, the desire to love and accommodate those I cherish, my friends and family. Daily I make choices that preserve the integrity of this balance; it is the foundation on which my happiness rests. However, you never saw fit to preserve such a balance, in fact, you never understood there was any balance at all, you served others while serving yourself, they were the same to you, and you made it work. It was effortless for you. You were an anomaly. It was as if at your conception God merged your interest with those you cared for. It was this grace that God bestowed upon you that truly set you apart. Your brother-in-law got it right; you were the music Jim, and we were all just listening. I only pray you saw fit to bestow some of your grace upon me.
What else can I say Jim other than thank you. Thank you for helping to create the person standing before you now. You were the artist, the catalyst, the precedent and the pinnacle. You were always your own person Jim, never impressionable, never persuaded; you conceived your own thoughts, and created your own world. I always marveled at your ability to think abstractly, independently and outside just about everything.
Being in your presence was like being in a classroom, your methods were subtle, too subtle for even you to notice. You taught by example rather than advice, through compassion rather than critique. Daily I strived to learn, and grow, and expand so I could be worthy of your friendship, although I’m sure you would have considered that absurd. You gave me a precious gift, Jimmy, you gave me the desire to be a better man, the desire to be my own man, and because of your gift I am the man I am today. You gave, and you gave, and you gave, and you gave, and you never expected anything in return. You were a great man Jim. A superman. A living, breathing, walking, talking angel.
This was the easiest and the hardest thing I ever had to write. I hope it was beautiful. Thank you for being my friend Jimmy Gauntt. You were the best friend I could ever ask for. Thank you so much. I love you.