What Jeff’s Legacy Teaches Us

11 Mar

 “We celebrate the past to awaken the future”

-JFK

Jeff’s 27th birthday represents a bittersweet moment in the lives of those he touched. We are, on the one hand, eternally appreciative of the joy and zest he brought to the world. By the same token, we are sad that he is no longer with us, and can’t help but wonder what he could have or would have become. As Rich pointed out in his last post, it is hard if not futile to predict where Jeff would have been today. I myself believe he would be doing something meaningful and impactful. I thought an appropriate way to mark his birthday is to espouse principles by which he lived, and that we should take with us as we live our lives.

Lesson #1 – Enjoy The Moment

Jeff had a zest with which he appreciated life. More so than anyone else, he could appreciate the small things. Many of us, especially in the younger generation, get caught up in living our lives through the prism of others, the notion where we should be. Rich had an excellent previous post on this point. What Jeff taught me was to relish the moment. An example is on a Key West trip I took with him, Ryan and Jack. Jeff was incredibly goofy, and, from time to time, loved getting goofy knick knacks. We were walking down Duval Street, the main street in Key West, and we passed a store with crazy shirts. One shirt was a juxtaposition with green eggs and ham and drinking. He could not get enough of it. He insisted going into the store, and buying the shirt. It’s not the purchase that was noteworthy, everyone buys gifts on vacation. It was the smile he had while wearing the shirt. It’s if as he was on top of the world, and wanted everyone to share in this delightful drunken soliloquy.

The lesson I glean from this is to enjoy the moment and appreciate the small things. We all get caught up in the craziness of everyday life. Take a card from Jeff’s playbook, and really enjoy that nice dinner or a good drink or an amazing tune.

Lesson #2 – Follow Your Passion

Jeff was very political, and loved sports. You could see these two interests of his predominate in many of the posts on this blog. Notwithstanding the readerships’ political persuasion, he always railed on Bush and southern folk. I, along with Ryan and Jack, hung out at Klein’s house a lot through the years. We instituted a semester end tradition called “victory ‘gars.” We would sit outside of his porch, and smoke some (crappy) cigars. We would reflect upon our semesters. There is one session with Jeff I distinctly remember. It concerned Barack Obama’s emergence in the democratic field. I remember sitting on his porch on a very clear night. As we gazed at the stars illuminating the sky, we embarked on a very philosophical and contextual discussion about politics. What I remember is the passion with which he approached this conversation. It is something that I seldom find shine in most people, and it shined within him.

As the story goes, one of Jeff’s struggles was to marry his passion with his career choices. He felt pressured by the world around him. It is clear that he had unabashed support from his family to pursue whatever his heart desired. I wish that I better communicated with him about how special his passions were with sports and politics, and the need to have pursued them.

The lesson here is to try to follow your passions to the maximum extent possible.

Lesson #3 – Communication and Honesty

A very troubling aspect of what happened to Jeff is how we (Jack, Ryan and myself) were largely, if not completely, unaware of the troubles Jeff faced. I think there has emerged, within a male centric, macho culture, the notion that men cannot communicate feelings towards one another. I consider myself to be a very straightforward and open person, but I sense that Jeff did not feel comfortable, for whatever reasons, to communicate his plight with us. I think that’s why I was so utterly shocked about what happened initially, because, to me, I didn’t see anything wrong on the exterior.

I always wonder what would have happened if Jeff told us what was happening. Would he still be here today? I cannot say for sure. I know that all of us would have been incredibly, incredibly supportive and would have done everything in our power to try to help Jeff out of this situation. It is something that, for me, was difficult to get over.

I know Rich, in previous posts, has touched upon mental illness’ stigma, and I believe that certainly played a role in Jeff’s hesitance. I think this teaches the lesson, especially amongst guys, to feel comfortable communicating your feelings and troubles to one another. We all must realize that no one is perfect, everyone goes through issues. We must be here to support one another, and foster a culture of openness and transparency.

Jeff’s Legacy Lives Forever

“We all don’t live forever …  the goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”

-Chuck Palahniuk

In the context of Jeff, this quote, at first, seems incredibly morbid. But, I think this quote is inspiring in Jeff’s case. In 23 years, he served to create something that will. This blog is a testament to this point. In remembering Jeff’s life, we should be appreciative of Jeff’s impact. We should be inspired by the legacy he has left. We should use the valuable lessons he has imparted upon us, and all strive to “create something that will.”

– Elon “Lonnie” Rubin

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3 Responses to “What Jeff’s Legacy Teaches Us”

  1. Penny March 11, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

    What an eloquent and moving tribute to Jeff .. Elon, your words are so inspiring.. God bless you.

  2. jodeenovakcm March 12, 2014 at 4:26 am #

    you are part of the living legacy jeff left behind, elon. these blog posts do more than just keep his memory alive for those of us who knew him … they bring him to life for those out there who didn’t.

  3. Francesca Hagadus March 12, 2014 at 6:30 am #

    This should be required reading for all venturing forth from adolescence to young adulthood. It is a difficult transition and these guidelines are excellent.

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