This weekend, I attended a memory celebration of a young man who is important to me, because of his influence on my 9 year old daughter. Joseph Lohr was my daughters climbing instructor this year at The Front Climbing Gym.
This little girl has been on the move since she could sit up. Always looking to the next step, she has been unhappy with where she is at the moment. As soon as she could sit up in her little tub she was pulling herself out of it (OK, it was the sink and she used the faucet to pull herself out). When she learned to crawl at 8 months (not particularly early), she decided she didn’t like that, and started walking 3 weeks later (very early in my opinion). As a mother, I watched nervously as she would run at 11 month. When she was 14 month she decided the monkey bars looked pretty fun and jumped for them when I wasn’t looking. Luckily, she made it. Suffice it to say, I had my hands full, and had no idea how to direct this energy of hers. With another baby on the way, I was ill prepared for this high energy and explorative child. One day (when she was about 5), the pediatrician said to me, “you know, dance is great, but this girl needs to climb”. Enter, The Front.
I’m no climber. I was a “delicate” and quiet child. But I must say, every time I walk into that gym I am awe-struck by the graceful beauty that I see on the wall….especially with my girl. Come on, I’m a mother. She’s fantastic! Every week I walk into the climbing gym…watch my girl warm up doing 4 or 5 climbs, and then leave her in the hands of Joe, Kat, and Ben. Every day that I came into the gym, Joe was there. As I think about it, his face was the one that greeted us most often. We chatted for 5 or 10 minutes every time I entered …. he was always smiling, kind, energetic, but most of all understanding. Joe was understanding of this high energy, high needs, and sometimes difficult girl of mine. Maybe he saw something of himself in her…maybe he was just naturally patient, whatever it was she never seemed to phase him. On Monday, May 10, Joe Lohr died in a backcountry snowboarding accident. I found out friday when Kat emailed me to let me know that there would be a hike and climb, and then later a remembrance celebration. Telling my girl was difficult. Tender hearted, she did not take it lightly. Yes, she shed many tears. I knew that she needed to go. On this rainy saturday we hiked with 70 or 80 other people up Ferguson Canyon to a favorite climbing spot. People chatted and introduced themselves to each other as they talked happily about Joe and how they knew him. He loved the outdoors and climbing, but his passion was the snow. He loved the climb and then floating down the mountain on his snowboard. In fact, most of my short conversations with Joe revolved around the snow up Little Cottonwood Canyon. Later that day, I took the girls to Eggs in the City where Joe’s friends and family shared memories and funny stories about him.
The truth of this young man, as many saw it from the sidelines, was that he loved life. He embraced every aspect of life and made the most of it. From every story that I heard, he was a person of curiosity and joy. He lived in a way that we can all learn from. I think of how we have our passions, our desires, our strengths, weaknesses, and ultimately the things that drive us…the things that we wake up and get out of bed in the morning for. For some of us, it’s nature. It’s being a tiny and insignificant part of something bigger than ourselves. For others, it’s the sheer sensory experience of life…the wind, the rain, speed, heights, being ice-cold or roasting hot…pushing our limits. For some of us that dance, it’s about expressing music in our bodies… The physical manifestation of sound; the joy that comes with the feeling of being connected and a part of the music. Everyone of us have something…something that drives us in our every day life. Even when our days are mostly mundane. But I guess what we really need to learn is how to make time for the things that matter. There is after all, only now. It’s sobering to think about.
Maybe tomorrow will come and maybe it won’t. I love music. I love dance. I love people. I love nature. There is so much to be in awe of, if we just take the time to make life a priority. I’m no Buddha. Most of the time, I fumble through life. And I’m not saying go out and risk everything for a thrill. I’ve just had a thoughtful weekend. Love your friends. Love your life. Love your passion.