Sunday, November 14, 2010

Awaken! Do not squander this life away!

This afternoon I learned that a former coworker, Gary Means, died very suddenly of a heart attack yesterday. This came so soon after I posted on Thursday about the need not to take life for granted.

Gary worked at my company for 16 years, although he left 3 years ago to work for an internet startup. (Sadly, he was laid off earlier this year.) Gary was an extremely talented artist and graphic designer--you can glimpse some of his art here. In addition to his artistic talent, he was extremely genuine, gentle, and kind. He loved his wife and family, and in fact had supported his wife through breast cancer just last year. I remember his fondness and talent for Native-American art, in particular.

My contact with Gary in recent years was limited to Facebook, where he hadn't been very active lately. However, his sudden death has come as an extreme shock to many of us. (Another coworker had lunch with him two weeks ago.)

My friend Roy, another close coworker of Gary's, had this to share about his own reaction to Gary's death:
"I was at a Zen/Catholic Silent Retreat at Mercy Center down in Burlingame, CA, 6 days of last week. At the end of each day, at 9 pm, a couple of retreat organizers bang on gongs and woods and bells to make a racket and then formally announce to 'Awaken! Do not squander this life away!' That, and sitting still on meditation for a total of 8.5 hours a day just watching the coming and going of the breath, practicing on 'emptying, letting go' gave me some tools to deal with this shocking news.      But nothing can prepare anyone for the real-ness of someone you’ve known for a long time die."
What an important message for us all to consider. Do not let bitterness grow. Do not let injuries fester. Make sure you tell people how much you love and value them.

Awaken! Do not squander this life away!

Thinking of Gary's wife and children. He was a great talent and human being.


  1. One note to add...From my last conversation with Gary...he at first felt bad about his recent layoff but out of that experience came a rebirth for him in some ways. He was learning about himself, about what he could contribute on a professional basis, about gifts and passions he didn't realize he had. So while I am sure he noted one milestone with sadness, it was the impetus for something amazing.

    Gary, it's been a privilege. Peace and aloha.

  2. That's good to know. Thanks for your comment.