Recently, I found out some news that no one ever wants to hear: a friend has died. And not only just a friend but someone that I have known my entire life, who went to the same elementary, junior high and high schools that I went to. His name is Kyle Mercer and he was just 22 years old. His death was extremely unexpected and came completely out of nowhere. He passed away in his sleep peacefully and I’ve been thinking about him every day since.
Everyone hears that ‘life is short’ but to truly understand the concept and live it, feeling it in your bones with each new-born dawn when you wake up, is an entirely different matter. A breath is a gift, a day is a blessing and a year is a miracle. Once you understand this, the way you live your life is altered from that point on. Kyle definitely understood this.
After his passing, I’ve been doing my best to not think of his death as something that has “ended” for I do not believe that he is no longer here, I know he is still here in spirit. And knowing Kyle, I know that he would want us to laugh, be happy and celebrate everything he lived for. So even though most of you may not know who Kyle Mercer is, I am going to talk about how a man saw his life as a canvas that could produce a work of art.
When I think of Kyle, I think of someone who was unbelievably happy. I honestly don’t know how he consistently maintained his positive outlook because out of all of the years I’ve known him, I have never seen him angry or sad. Not even one single time. How did he become such a happy person? I feel so inferior sometimes because I grapple internally with a lot of emotions, each pulling and crashing my mind like passionate waves in a frenzied storm. And yet, he was always extremely centered.
His secret? Love. As simple as it may sound, it was love, and more importantly, how he treated this concept of love and employed it to see the world as a more adventurous jungle ripe for exploration.
He had love for everyone, every single person he met in life. And the reason is because he believed that each being had the capacity for greatness, for grace and compassion, no matter what stage they were experiencing, no matter how down they were, no matter what broken path their feet were firmly entrenched in. He envisioned the side of their heart that could flourish if given a chance to shine and helped nourish this. It is so easy to get lost in the place we live in with so much going wrong and breaking apart but it is just as easy to forget how much greatness each of us holds on our own. He recognized this and encouraged all of us to recognize it as well.
Each and every one of you reading this has the ability to do anything you want; all you have to do is want it badly enough and reach out for it. And it’s just as easy to love someone and have love to give. Kyle had such a passion for love itself that he wanted to experience it across the world, to see how it spreads and how it really is the universal language of the universe. He traversed across Europe, ran across Japan. He even moved to Alaska for a summer, opting to take a job as a barista at a coffee shop just so he could experience something new, take in the grandiose scenery and perhaps meet a few new people he would have never come across otherwise.
If you ever feel stuck where you are at, ever feel like there’s nothing left to achieve or accomplish, remember that there are a thousand places out there that you have yet to experience. An entire world! Think about it for a second. Turn off your cell phone, back away from the computer and spend 10 minutes with your eyes closed, completely silent, and think of all of the places in the world that you can visit. Waterfalls in Argentina, rolling bright green hills in Ireland, the futuristic cityscape of Tokyo. Now when you open your eyes, coming back from you meditative dream state, think about this: all of those places are real.
It’s easy to get trapped in your own artificial bubble, a suffocating comfort zone that makes you forget that there is a world beyond the borders you see every day. The world is real and all of those fantastic places you see in photography magazines and screensavers are completely real places that you deserve to experience. And more importantly, you need to visit them now. Kyle saw the best of the world and passed it on through his life to all of his friends and it was an incredible gift to us and to himself.
We all deserve this same gift.
Kyle was also a big advocate of art and music. He always encouraged us to express ourselves as much as humanly possible, whether it be through painting, poetry, or especially music. One of my best friends, PJ Wolbach, was always encouraged by Kyle to write poetry of his own. After his death, PJ wrote a poem inspired by Kyle, which I present below:
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