(Chris Pruchnic on far left)
(Photo below: Chris on far right)
Life is short.
We lost a good one.
Loss is an odd emotion to feel. For a moment, it's terrifying. The next, it is heart breaking. And then it serves you a side of reality, realization of temporariness, and a grand finale of shock.
I have, unfortunately, dealt with a lot of loss in my life. I think it goes hand in hand with the life activities that those of us that choose it, pursue. It is always a big reality check for me when I put into perspective the things that we do. I am surrounded by people, amazing people, who float up vertical faces, jump off cliffs voluntarily, and push the limits on a daily basis. I am grateful to know such people, but I often forget how extreme these things are. I appreciate what they do and what they are good at, but I also forget the thin line that is often crossed between what is safe and times where people, including myself, "narrowly escape." It always puts it back in perspective for me that I need to double and triple check my knots, make sure I have a solid belayer and climbing partner, and I need to tell people I love them more.
Chris was a friend. We worked together on The North Face tour for two years and he kept encouraging me to pursue what made me happy. We talked about my photography and my climbing, and we talked about his running and climbing. Every conversation we had I would bring up school and he would tell me to just finish and graduate, and be the best that I could be. I appreciated those words, and know that he spoke the truth. When I talked to him on the tour this year, I promised him after I was out of school I would get an American Alpine Membership. I plan on following through with this promise.
I went to church tonight, expecting to walk into a sermon that would "fix" the hurt that I was feeling. It didn't. But in thumbing through my Bible, I found a verse that I underlined. It is about how when you loose everything, you depend on the things that matter. That is for me, God, my faith, family, friends, my memories. It's true that loss strips you of everything. It forces you to take a look around and re-examine your life, if you are living it the way you want. Are you?
Looking back, I realize how much of my life has stemmed out of grief and loss. I started taking photographs because I needed something to be still when everything around me was changing. I got a dog because I needed something to love and depend on that also needed and depended on me. Both of these things have radically changed my life for the better, and it was all based on the heaviest emotions I have ever felt.
The days ahead seem long. I know there is a huge community out there that will be missing him and his energetic presence.
I'm flying as far West as the United States goes. I need to reconnect with the ground and dig my feet into the sand and look across the ocean and understand its endlessness.
Life is short. Don't let your heart collect dust. Follow the wind where it takes you, and breathe it in deep. Be the best you can be. Love everyone wholeheartedly. Do what you love. Adventure out in to the world and be quiet in the wilderness. Send hugs and kisses to the wind to those you miss. They will receive them and send some back.