My Friend Charlie

My friend Charlie left his physical body last Saturday. His body was 92 years old and had been a very good body to inhabit for many years.

I met Charlie at fitness camp the year I was 31 and he was 69. Interestingly, I just found out in a bio that was the year he was named an All American triathlete. I just knew he was an “old man” who was a good runner and had the unusual habit of carrying a long bone, decorated Native American style, as he ran. Charlie’s name is still in the record books holding many of the age group records, both in Texas and nationally, for distances from the 5K to the marathon. Here he is at age 88 running the Fort Worth Cowtown 10K (which he helped start in 1979) on a blustery and cold February day.

As I got to know and love Charlie, he stopped being an old man and became ageless. He had the enthusiasm and curiosity of a young person, the wit and intellect of a man full of life experiences, and the wisdom and groundedness of an old soul. Charlie was generous, humble, kind, funny, smart, and spiritual. He always made me feel like I was his “special” friend, yet, I know that each and every one of his friends also felt that way.

In recent years I began to talk to Charlie about his beliefs about the world, why we’re here and who we really are, since that was my current interest. Charlie was a man of science and approached these concepts from the intellect. (Being born in the winter, this is exactly the way of his design according to the medicine wheel philosophy, something he ascribed to.) I’m more of a feeler, more interested in energy states. In our little microcosm we mimicked the world of science and spirituality, and just as is happening in that macrocosm, we found our intersection in quantum physics. We shared resources, talked about our non-physical selves as energy, and listened to each other’s perspectives.

What stuck with me was a state he called the “forever now.” I shared with him some of my “expansion” exercises.  These came close, but never quite matched the ecstatic (?), peaceful (?) state, he experienced only once or twice in his life, his glimpses behind the veil. I feel quite sure he is currently experiencing the “forever now,” a state that is beyond any intellectual description or feeling either of us could imagine in our conversations.

When I was in college I read Jonathon Livingston Seagull and I loved this quote. It seems appropriate. So, to my friend Charlie, with love:

Remember, Jonathan, heaven isn’t a place or a time, because place and time are so very meaningless…. If our friendship depends on space and time, then when we finally overcome space and time, we’ve destroyed our own brotherhood. But overcome space, and all you have left is Here. Overcome time and all you have left is Now. And in the middle of Here and Now, don’t you think that we might see each other once or twice?

Richard Bach

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