Saturday, December 29, 2007

Thinking of Geoph

Yesterday was Geoph Kozeny's birthday. He would have been 58. 

     Ordinarily he would have celebrated his birthday with me and my cmty at Sandhill (we were the regular year-end stop on his annual peregrination, right after Christmas with his mother in southwest Missouri). But pancreatic cancer cut his life short and he died two months ago in the San Francisco apartment of his dear friend and ex-partner Eraca Cleary. I got to see him two days before the end and treasure having had the opportunity to have been with him at the last. Writing this evokes the image of him rallying to squeeze my hand for our final parting. Though his body was wasted by the ravaging disease, his spirit remained strong and clear throughout.
     I miss him. 
     It's different going through the holiday season without Geoph. While not exactly a lump of coal in my stocking, it's certainly a lump in my throat.
     Right after Geoph passed away, I turned 58—the age he didn't quite live to reach—and it's been a wake up call, pulling the curtain back from the illusion that we have oodles of time to get around to the life we meant to live. Losing Geoph brought home the reality of our mortality and that we truly don't know how long we have.
     It has also help me step back and take a look at what hooks me, and my patterns of irritation. Going through the pain and grief of losing a dear friend offers perspective on what's truly matters and the ways one allows pettiness to obscure what really valuable—either because we become obsessed with the surface and miss the core, or because our heads are turned the wrong way, distracted by the glitter of some passing bauble or drama.
     Geoph was an optimist's optimist, and it buoys me to hold onto the kinship we had around our unflagging efforts to help build a more cooperative and fair world. While, like Geoph, I expect to die with a full In Box, I love what I do and have no intention of deferring engagement or enjoyment to an uncertain future. I'm not counting on another life to make up for opportunities I've inadvertently squandered or postponed in this one. As the bumper sticker says, "This is not a rehearsal," and I am a player.
     I am a better person for our having walked so many of the same pathways and for having had him as a friend. So it's fitting to take time in this season of long nights and reflection to feel again the ache of his absence and to raise a glass to Geoph and the wonderfully rich 22 years we had together.
     Though Geoph is gone, he is still with me.

1 comment:

Chris said...


I've been reading your blog for a while and been meaning to respond. I think you write quite well and that your blog is one of the most interesting developments to come along regarding this community's movement, at least what I'm aware of. What I mean by this, is your willingness to discuss such intimate details regarding your life, and sharing your thoughts and the fact that you're so close to the epicenter of the communities movement so to speak.

My comment about Geoph's death is this: it just seems odd that it wouldn't be discussed why he died at such a young age. By this I don't mean him personally, but why would anyone in the communities movement would die at a young age when I would assume one of the primary reasons to be in "community" would be to live a healthy lifestyle and to be happy, both of which one would assume would lead to a long life.

Now obviously, I'm quite aware life isn't that perfect. We all have pasts and even the present can oftentimes be less than perfect. Also, I'm not trying to hold "intentional communities movement " up to some sort of perfect standard. But just to shrug it off and say well, "it was just the luck of the draw" or to think maybe one was just unlucky and breathed in a bit of plutonium dust from a nuclear test is somehow, seems to me, conveniently avoiding looking at the "communities movement" with less than a critical eye. A critical eye that might ask, how happy are people in the communities movement, really? How well are they eating, really?

Death, I suppose, is ripe for ignoring. The young don't even think about it, and the old, perhaps, are rather terrified of it. Actually, I would imagine very old are quite comfortable with it, it's us baby boomers in the say 50 to 65 or 70 age group that death becomes a rather terrifying thing to consider just because we know how possible it is to die at a younger age nowadays.

Anyway I guess you get the gist of my comment, which is again: does the communities movement need to be a healthier and happier place, or on the darker side, is it not as happy and healthy as it is being made out to be?

I guess I'll know soon if you want these type of comments on your blog. I've been interested in this movement all my life. I spent my 20s searching for the perfect community, living in some and then at 30 I began my life as an organic farmer for the next 20 years, full time. I'm 57 now, I have hep C., I just got divorced, I made some bad decisions and I have no idea what I'm going to do next. But this idea of "intentional community" still fascinates me, I think it has real potential, but I'm also a thinker and I'm thinking a lot more than I did when I was young. I'm thinking a lot more critically and reading a lot more books now. Some think critical thinking is being judgmental. I think judgmental is when it's directed towards an individual and that ideas and theories should be open for critical analysis.

I met both you guys when you came to Florida peace Center to do a communities weekend workshop several years ago. And I guess I met you once when my ex-wife and I came to visit dancing rabbit and stopped in at Sandhill.

Respectfully, Chris Greene