Monday, September 28th, marked the 11-year anniversary of my friend, Angie’s, death. She was hit and killed by a drunk driver while driving home from work one day on a back road in Montana. I always think of her, but some years hit me harder than others. This year felt like she was just taken yesterday.
It’s at times like this, I’m so grateful to have a wonderful mentor, coach, spiritual guide, modern mystic – whatever you want to call her – in my life. I call her my angel. She helps me make sense of things like this and find direction.
Today she reminded me what it is that I’m mourning in the loss of my friend. It’s not the body that was Angie, Angela, Ang. It’s the spirit. I miss her spirit and what she brought into my life.
But as my guide so aptly reminded me, we attract people into our lives who are a reflection of us. What I loved so much in Angie, I have within me because she brought it out in me. And I’m forever grateful to her.
You see, I was more of a girlie, girl growing up. Angie had more tomboy in her. She was an adventurer, an action taker, a mover and a shaker. There was never a dull moment when Angie was around. You were either hiking a hill and building a tree house, or going down to the river to catch tadpoles, or walking through the field to catch grasshoppers, or picking huckleberries in the mountains at the cabin, or riding bikes down to the pony farm. There was always something going on – and it usually meant being outdoors, embarking on some adventure.
Without Angie, I probably would have stayed closer to home. I was more fearful and liked to play it safe. She was confident and fearless. And she dragged me to all kinds of unknown places – over hills, through rivers, onto horses, and all over the Rattlesnake (the area where we grew up in Missoula, Montana).
And I loved it. I loved what she brought out in me. That spark; that energy, that explorer, adventurer, and risk-taker.
The easy part for me was that she always went first. I could follow once I knew it was safe and ok.
But I don’t have her to go first anymore.
And going first is hard.
Interestingly enough, I chose a career that’s all about going first – entrepreneurship. But I’ve been struggling with going first lately.
You see, I’ve got some big projects I want to accomplish before the end of the year, which are steps to accomplishing even bigger dreams that I have for next year, and all the years following. Dreams of creating joy, connection, and humanity in an industry where we all work behind a computer screen and put things out on the interwebs.
But who am I to do this? What makes me so special that I think I can create something that would connect an entire industry?
Maybe you can relate to those questions.
You have to be a real adventurer to take on something like that. And a confident one at that. You have to expect the best around every corner and believe that just over the next hill is something worth hiking to – even when another voice is saying, “let’s go home, turn on your Madonna cassette, and talk about boys”.
And when all you find at the top of the hill is another hill to climb, you have to look at it like, “damn, climbing that hill was so fun! Sure, I got a little dirty along the way, but I discovered so many cool things. I can’t wait to climb this next one!”
You have to be Angie.
And you know, when it’s all said and done, the people who came along with you will be glad they did 99% of the time. The other 1% will be when they got bit by a spider or stepped on by a horse on the journey. But someday they’ll look back and laugh. And be glad that they learned back then how not to get stepped on by a horse.
I think the trick to life, when you lose something outside of you, is figuring out how you can recreate it within yourself. It’s there. If it weren’t there, you never would have connected with the outside thing in the first place. But finding it, digging it up, and going first- that’s the work you have to do.
The beautiful part is, when you’re finally able to do that successfully, the thing/person/place/animal you thought you lost actually lives on forever.