I have this theory. Perhaps it's not so much a theory as a kind of gut feeling about some of the things that occur in life. When I think about it consciously, it goes something like this: We all have a lifespan. During our lives many of the creatures surrounding us have very short life spans, or so it seems. We refer to “dog years” as seven years to our one. A Mayfly lives only twenty four hours.
Then I think of such a thing as a Hummingbird, whose wings constantly move so fast that we can't even see them. They seem to be moving as if we were seeing a film played at high speed. Perhaps they see us as if we are moving in slow motion. Perhaps they can't even perceive our motions in the same way that we don't often see the growth of plants. I think that such amazing, and beautiful, creatures will only live a short time. And then I have to wonder...
Do they really live such a short time? It seems like we share the earth with others who, when we use ourselves as comparisons, are somehow cheated of a full life. That doesn't necessarily make sense, though. I think to myself that perhaps the Hummingbird's sense of time is such that their life might seem full, given that most Hummingbirds would live for the same length of time as others. The Mayfly's life is probably a full life, etc, etc. Perhaps lifespan has to do with the speed of their heartbeats and the length of time it takes to reach a certain number of heartbeats. I don't know; does anyone?
All I can say is that a Hummingbird accomplishes amazing things in that short period of time, all the while retaining its beauty. Those of us who love pets, know that we will outlive most of them. We already know, whether we want to be cognizant of the fact or not, that humans tend to have longer lifespans than dogs, cats, or most other animals that we surround ourselves with. Those pets may view, if they can, our lifespans as being incredibly long, as we do when we see the Giant Sequoia trees.
Sometimes I have this feeling with certain people. There are people among us who live shorter lives. Shorter, yet sometimes, fuller lives. It's as if they had the energy of the Hummingbird. It seems that they created more, they lived more fully, they kept doing, in such a way that far exceeded what the majority of us accomplish in a much longer period of time. Robin Williams never stopped moving, never stopped trying to make people laugh, was always looking ahead to the next “come-back”. Perhaps he never took any time away from it and was saving his rest for his return to forever.
I've had this feeling about Jimi Hendrix. He did such amazing things at such a young age. He created music that people are still trying to understand forty years after he died. It's as if he accomplished so much, in his twenty seven years, that though we still desire more, he completed his life. He lived a full life. He lived fast and furiously and contributed greatly to the world of music, influencing every genre of music since.
Perhaps the more intensely one lives and the more things one accomplishes, the longer, greater and fuller their life is, regardless of the length of that life in actual time. Again, I don't know anything for certain but it seems that there are certain people who, now that they are gone, fit this category where, despite the brief time they lived, their lives were full and complete: James Dean, Whitney Houston, Kirby Perkins, Elvis Presley, Tony Pinto, Humphrey Bogart, Glenn Miller... ...and thousands of others.
Please don't think that I am ignoring the tragedy of their passing. Death never seems to occur when it is supposed to. You would think that we should somehow know when it's coming, given the billions who have proceeded us. We suffer tremendously when we lose them. Do they? I cannot say...
I think about this when I need to soothe myself over the passing of a friend, the latest of whom reminds me of some of these others who, although they left me before I thought they should, lived life fully and made great contributions for the rest of us.
When I speak of Dominic living a full life, I can only speak to the length of time that I've known him. We became friends through working together in The Antique & Classic Boat Society and especially working on our chapter's annual boat festival. His wife, Maryann is the Festival Chair. He approached me one day saying that he had heard that I was a former professional musician and he told me that he had been the manager of The Army Field Band, which is where he met Maryann who was a member of the band. The stories he told me of his experiences there revealed some amazing accomplishments, notably getting the Field Band into the Montreaux Jazz Festival, perhaps the most important jazz venue in the world.
One of my earliest recollections of Dominic was when Maryann and he experimented with a business making nautical furniture and began traveling to some of the same shows that we do. In Upstate New York, four hundred miles from home, Dominic noticed that one of our truck's headlights was out. He was a person that always paid attention to “the details”. He found me and said “Don't worry about it. I will take care of it. Maryann can man our booth.” When I said that he didn't need to do that he said “I know how to do it; it's easy. And, if I don't know how to do it, I'll find out how. Give me your keys.” Then he said the thing that I'll always remember him for: “I specialize in getting things done.”
I have to say that I really didn't know what to think at that moment, but when we saw him later he told me about how our truck was different from what he had previously worked on and that it was a challenge, but that he enjoyed doing it. I believe that everyone that I know knew Dominic probably had some experience in which Dominic got it done. Dominic thrived on challenges.
Because we live just a bit too far away, and although I consider Dominic a great friend, I don't feel like I got to know him as well as I would have liked. I did get to work with him frequently and can tell you that he was always thinking, always friendly, always willing to give of himself, always trying to make things better, always available when someone needed something, a great leader, able to provide criticism in a supportive way, open minded, interested in new ways of doing things, he had a great sense of humor and he was very caring. Capable of taking seemingly untenable ideas, learning what was required for their success, bringing the right kinds of people together and convincing them to become involved and helping them to complete the job, he not only got it done, he provided opportunities for others to share in accomplishments they could really be proud of. He was probably the greatest master of “Schmooze” that I have known. He was generous and loved to see others enjoy themselves.
I have always seen Dominic as driven to do well in everything he did. Although he always seemed relaxed, I don't think that he liked to be without something important to do. I don't know how he felt about his own accomplishments, but to most people that I know, he would be regarded as having had a pretty amazing record of success.
Of late, I can't help but feel that he foresaw that he was running out of the energy to do what he loved to do most. It took so much energy to do the great things that he did. I don't pretend to know his thoughts, his feelings or his wishes. But, from my vantage point, he reminds me of the Hummingbird, in which despite the brevity of his life, it was full, it was rich, he made the lives of others more enjoyable and he certainly gave me things that I will remember for the rest of my life.
We'll miss you, old friend.