Pursuing passions part of a fulfilling life

Life is so precious and sometimes so fleeting.

The friends that have passed before me now number many and  I sometimes wonder where my place is in the schedule of these matters.

I have danced at the edge a few times and thankfully, am still here to enjoy life and all that it offers.

These thoughts are brought to mind again recently with the deaths of three people who have touched my life.

Gerald Thom died tragically a couple of weeks back in a flying accident.

Gerald wasn’t a close friend but someone who I shared some experiences with and with whom I shared a great passion for the environment, in particular the environment of the Cowichan Watershed.

One day he is planting trees with friends and supporters, the next he is gone, tragically a victim of another of his passions.

All that has been written since about Gerald’s life points to a man of integrity, a human who cared deeply about things and took action when needed.

Another recent loss close to me was the passing of Louise Hamilton, another friend who touched my life on occasion.

Louise was well known for her passion for swimming, coaching, being a friend to the Cowichan people and being a watchdog for the Quamichan watershed since Quamichan Creek passed through the bottom of her property.

She was always quick to call me when she had an opinion to share or wanted some action on something environment related.

Louise is another fine example of a person of passion and action who lived life to its fullest and she leaves behind a legacy of her passions in many places and in many hearts.

Finally, as all things seem to arrive in three’s, was the recent passing of Robin Williams. I didn’t know him, and not being a big movie fan myself, had not seen many of his movies that he starred in.

But I do know him well as Robin Williams the activist. Whether it was the environment, social issues, or more specific issues such as the campaign to free Leonard Pelletier, he was there one hundred percent.

Newspaper reports and Facebook eulogies talk volumes of the number and the depth of his contributions, both in person and financially.

Perhaps his greatest gift to the world will be in helping others recognize the ongoing challenge of depression that he faced throughout his life. A legacy perhaps he did not know he would leave.

This writing is not intended to be a eulogy for these people but an acknowledgement of their contributions to our world and to relate the importance of being passionate about life and giving to what you love best as they all did.

Each of them has reminded me about how important it is to live one’s life to its fullest as it can come to an end at any time and sometimes without any warning at all.

Living life to its fullest is about chasing one’s passions. Whether it be travel, learning, teaching or something more specific such as climbing Everest.

These passings are also a reminder about how important it is to contribute something to the world we share with other life while we are best able to.

Whatever the cause or passion, be it the environment, local sports, animal welfare, helping the homeless or feeding the hungry, there are countless people out there giving 100%.

Unfortunately, now more than ever, the need is still greater than the giving. Perhaps the gift of these people in their passing is to encourage others to begin giving, helping and living their passions.

As Margaret Mead most famously stated, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Paul Fletcher is former Duncan city councillor who writes monthly in the News Leader Pictorial.

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