If you’re a regular to my blog, you’ve heard me speak about Mike before. If you’re new to the Adventures of Joel and have no idea who Mike is, you can read his story here.
Anywho…It’s a year after his passing and he and Monica have been on my mind a lot this week – even more so than usual.
I thought that I would get some of my thoughts out and share them to help me talk out my feelings this week.
So here we go.
Mike was extremely connected with the natural world and appreciated everything around him. He was the true definition of someone who lived life to the fullest. Mike was a photographer, a musician, and a writer. Mike was a dreamer, a thinker, a philosopher. Mike was an explorer, an adventurer, and a wanderer. Mike loved deeply, lived intentionally, and danced always.
They say “you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone” and I believe this to be true. But this is not the case with Mike. Seeing all of the lives he touched in just 24 years, and the community of support that Monica and the Purdy family have around them proves differently.
Everyone who was a part of Mike’s life knew what they had before it was gone. To have Mike as a part of your life meant that you had inspiration, adventure, passion, drive, meaning. You knew this because Mike lived so intentionally that it was clear to everyone how great life could be if you simply watched him or engaged him in conversation. He embodied everything that one could wish for in a friend and was transparent enough to tell you everything that everyone else was too afraid to say. He lived boldly and everyone knew it. It’s what attracted so many of us to him. He had this radiant, magnetic power.
You listen to one of his songs, look at one of his photos, read one of his journal entries, take a peek at one of his tattoos, and you just know exactly what you have by being connected to Mike. You know that he was one of a kind, an original, some magical force of nature. You knew he was special. He was rooted deeper than the rest of us. He was connected to everything that shared air and space with him.
Mike didn’t live like the rest of us. He didn’t spread hate or unacceptance. He didn’t care what people thought. He wasn’t obsessed with material possessions and worldly belongings. He just sought adventure and meaning. And somehow he always seemed to find it, and spread that knowledge to the rest of us.
Now, you should know, that I didn’t really know Mike very well. I knew of him, but I feel like I can tell his story pretty accurately, because I feel like I am one of the extras in Mike’s life movie.
Monica and I have been best friends since the first day of undergrad where we met because we happened to both be in the same First Year Experience block. Five years this beautiful soul has stayed by my side. Thanks, love! Since day one, she talked to me about Mike. So over the years, I have come to know the gypsy mountain man that is Hiker Mike as a symbol of simplicity, love, and adventure. He has become someone that I aspire to be. Someone that I look up to for guidance – a sage, if you will.
Now that Mike is gone, I feel his presence stronger than ever. I am inspired daily by the strength that I see in Monica and Tim and the Purdy family. I have a greater need to be free, to get back to the good life, to enjoy simple things, and to care less about stuff. I live more intentionally, so that I may embody the way that Mike lived. I seek to get outdoors at least once a day, smile at strangers more, and bring light to this dark dark world. I strive to float, like Mike did, above the white noise of the world and above the darkness.
To me, living like mike is a journey. A transition. A transformation. It means to self-discover. To share. To connect. To inspire. To create. To breathe. To jump. And most of all to love.
It means to love everyone. Unconditionally. Wholly. And to grow in love every day. To live like Mike is to stir things up, break the mold, and make waves in the lives of those around me. It is to be unapologetically myself and to explore this beautiful world as the original being that I was created to be.
I’m not sure if this post truly captures the essence of Mike that I was hoping to, but I had to share some of Mike’s best attributes, and why this year has been so important to me as I continue to grow into the Joel that I aspire to be – the Joel that lives a little more like Mike everyday.
This week has been hard. Today has been hard. But just one year ago, I was sitting on the shore of Lake Superior in the company of some of my closest friends, sharing blankets, tears, and the warm embrace of Mike’s spirit as we all received the worst news that can be imagined. This memory is one that I will never forget.
So, to Monica, Tim, the Purdy family, Diane, Megan, and Grace – Thank you for sharing that special moment with me. Thank you for being the force of strength that we all needed to get through that dark night. I love you all.
And, to everyone else – Try to live a little lighter from now on. Try to embrace simplicity, adventure, authenticity, yourself, others, and love. When is the last time you tried something new? When is the last time you dared to live boldly? When is the last time you lived like Mike?
Big love today,