Writing

For Walt – Until We Meet Again – Also: Corporations Don’t Get It

walt_shanan_mediumAt the end of last week, I found out that my old friend and former band mate, Walt, died rather suddenly. As his partner Astrid said, his gentle heart failed him.

The picture here is circa 2002? 2003? It was a while ago. It’s one of the few I have of him. For all the time we spent rehearsing, gigging or just sitting around talking about everything from the people of Scottsdale to the idea of extra terrestrial life to the nature of existence itself…

We took few pictures, and we never did lay down a single track of music. I couldn’t tell you why exactly. We never recorded our time as friends.

We lived it.

That’s how Walt was… he lived and experienced and cherished life. He poured passion into his music, all the way down to the creation of beautiful instruments that sang with his very own soul. He was the truest friend one could have.

When people join together to make music, they share a deep part of their souls with one another. And now… that piece of my soul named Walt has moved on.

“Don’t be dismayed at goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.”
– Richard Bach

I’m home sick today. My body is exhausted. Life officially caught up with me in the form of a head cold. I was thankful to have a three day weekend to incorporate the idea of loss into my life before having to go back to work, but apparently it was more than my body could take.

Yesterday morning, I pulled up to my assigned parking spot in Corporate America, and I saw Walt, as vivid as the morning sun, standing in his luthier’s shop, lathing a fret board. He looked at me and smiled in his gentle way and said, “What are you doing with yourself? Why are you here? Why aren’t you following your passions? Time is short, you know…”

I wanted to turn the car around and drive away. But I parked, and I walked to my desk with tears in my eyes. And I diligently wrote my code, all while feeling this intense pressure behind my eyes.

At one point, I opened up my corporate handbook and read the bereavement policy. Summarized: You can take up to three days off for the passing of a spouse, child, mother, father, brother or sister. If we find out you lied about who died, you can and will be fired.

My heart sunk. My company, regarded as “The best place to work” in their corporate home city for four years running, has absolutely no compassion when it comes to grieving and loss.

Now, that’s not entirely fair. My direct manager is very compassionate, and understands completely. But the company as a whole has this CYA policy that doesn’t and will not ever understand the deep connection of friendship.

The juxtaposition of Walt’s gentle spirit and fiercely independent nature against the cold reality of the corporate environment where I spend the majority of my waking hours is not lost on me.

I know I need to be true to my soul… and now I have the spirit of Walt inside me, reminding me that my heart is not in the work that I do.  I will always do my job to the best of my ability… they pay me, and I have this silly little thing called a “work ethic.”

I am worth So. Much. More.

So Walt, I wish I could see that little green dot on Facebook messenger that says, “I’m here.”  I wish I could dial the phone and have you pick up. I would do anything to make good on that promise to come see your beautiful home in Maryland where you found your truest happiness.

None of that will come to pass.

So I make this promise, as an honor to you, your memory and to our friendship, that I will follow my own passions. I will create something beautiful for the world.

Time is, indeed, short. Until we meet again, my gentle friend, I will make the most of it.

A New Day – Walt Kuhlman

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5 thoughts on “For Walt – Until We Meet Again – Also: Corporations Don’t Get It

  1. Reblogged this on Michi's Adventures in Blogging and commented:
    When we get together at the renaissance festival, often sing “Health to the Company” for this very reason. The second verse gets to the heart of it:
    “So here’s a health to the company and one to my lass
    Let’s drink and be merry all out of one glass
    Let’s drink and be merry, all grief to refrain
    For we may or might never all meet here again”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So here’s a health to the company and one to my lass
    Let’s drink and be merry all out of one glass
    Let’s drink and be merry, all grief to refrain
    For we may or might never all meet here again

    Like

    1. Of all the money that ere I had, I spent it in good company.
      And of all the harm that ere I’ve done, alas was done to none but me.
      And all I’ve done for want of wit, to memory now I cannot recall.
      So fill me to the parting glass. Goodnight and joy be with you all.

      Liked by 1 person

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