Thursday, January 29, 2009

Things I Miss, 8

I miss Reginald’s passion and joy in living. Despite the hard life he had (see Hard Knocks Life: Things I Miss, 7), Reginald loved life like no other person I’ve known.

A number of people who knew him well have shared their memories of him since he died. One description that has recurred in several people’s memories was that Reginald was always “on.” You couldn’t be bored around him, and you couldn’t not be continually stimulated, because Reginald was constantly engaging with the world and with the people around him in a deep way. You also couldn’t ever be lazy in your thinking around him, because he tended to presume others were deeply engaged in the topic at hand and to expect nothing less.

He really wasn’t very good at relaxing or at being “low key” (if anything, trying to relax tended to stress him out and to be unrelaxing); he constantly wanted to see what there was to see. (Given the elaborate and active quality of his dreams, I think his mind was probably “on” and going full bore even when he was asleep.)

I miss also his specific passions. He loved the arts, poetry and music most of all, though his tastes were both deep and precise. For example, while he could certainly be described as an opera fan, it wasn’t opera in general that he liked. It was a small number of specific operas that he loved, but those that he loved, he was deeply passionate about. I’ve just mentioned opera, but the same could be said about his tastes regarding a variety of musical or other art genres, with a deep interest in specific or precise works of art. I suppose in some sense the same is true for most anyone who is interested in art of other things, but the extent of his passion for those things he liked was remarkable. For example, he didn’t just like Tristan und Isolde; he had to have every distinct recording available of it. And when he listened to music, it was an all consuming experience for him, as was reading poetry, or anything else that he thought worth doing. Again, whatever he was doing, he was focused and “on.”

Further, he tended to identify very strongly with those works of art (with again this being most especially the case with music) which he did care about. Or perhaps I have that backwards. Perhaps it was those works and things that he identified that he in turn felt so passionate about.

In any case, I profoundly miss the way in which he so deeply, passionately cared about the music he listened to, the books he read, the food he ate, the conversations he had, and about living life.

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