To Marianne:

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
— e.e. cummings

At the ripe age of 22, I lost someone that I was supposed to protect. I didn’t do my job properly enough to make sure that she called me when something was off, or I didn’t build up enough trust to make sure that the unthinkable stayed just that – unthinkable. As a first year forum mentor, I was supposed to be the middleman between a group of fantastically acute and apprehensive first year students and the professor in charge of the small, 6-8 week seminar course made for those in their first year at Syracuse’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Marianne Guppenberger died too young, and it shook all of us that knew her, however well.  Some days she pops up in my thoughts as a shadow, and I often think of what she’d be doing these days, with that infectious laugh, glowing smile, and obvious wisdom. Next April it’ll be five years – five years since I was shocked by the news, five years since I blindly bumbled through planning a memorial service with her closest friends, five years since the unthinkable happened.

Death is always a shock to us, as it reminds us of our fragile mortality. We’re so used to living in the past or planning for the future that we forget about the present. Not enough people are living with intent. They’re just living each day as spectators to their life, and as a result, they’re passive, and they’re unhappy. It’s hard work being the coach, umpire, star player, and benchwarmer all at once – but it’s also a hell of a lot more rewarding. If you’re going to put in effort, why not give it a full 100%? What business do you have trying to lower the expectations of your own life?

Intent is creating with your heart. Loving with your soul. Deciding with your brain and your gut. Talking with your mind and your mouth, but listening with your ears more. If you use your entire body, multiple times a day, you’ll find that you will be living with intent – not being chased by regret. There’s no “could haves”, “would haves”, or “should haves”.

Life is about the yin and the yang; with death, there is always hope, light, and life. Marianne is always going to be sparkling light in my memory, and I only wish to respectively pay tribute to her memory. Personally, I know how hard youth can be; since my own path was so very non-linear. I’ve lost more friends than I can count, I’ve cut people out of my life, and I’ve also invited new ones in. There are a lot of highs and lows in my life, though they’ve thankfully been gradually ironed out over the years.

One thing I know, though, is that we need to know ourselves. It’s so important to know yourself better than you know a best friend – know your strengths without being arrogant, your weaknesses without being filled with angst and worry, know what keeps you up at night and what lulls you to sleep. What you’re passionate about, what makes you want to move and exercise, and what is profitable. Know how you can fit in to the multiple big picture options you have. Know what you will and will not accept – from others and from yourself – and always keep pushing forward, always with intent.