Thank You, Alex

15 Jul

On Friday afternoon, I found out that Alex Okrent, a classmate from Wesleyan, had collapsed while at work in Chicago, and later passed away.  He was 29 years old, healthy, living with purpose, trying to make the world a better place.

In 2008, I was living abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, spending too much time on my laptop following Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and determined to get involved, I emailed my resume to everyone I knew that was working on the campaign.  Even though we were not close friends in college, Alex, who treated everyone like a close friend, responded immediately, and gave my resume to the right people—a few weeks later, I flew to Indiana to work as a field organizer in “Region 7.”  That experience, which Alex facilitated, shaped the next years of my life.

We spend so much time thinking about the most trivial of matters; the emails and the errands and our busy calendars, that we rarely stop to remember how precious life really is.  In conversations about Alex with friends from college, and in seeing the outpouring of love and support on Facebook, I realized that, despite all the challenges and worries and problems we deal with everyday, all of us have so much to be grateful for.  Our families, our friends, the love in our lives.

To think that a healthy, passionate, 29 year-old can pass away so suddenly is deeply tragic and saddening, and it reminds us all to live each day to the fullest.  Don’t wait to ask a friend from college if he can hook you up with a job (even if you have no relevant experience).  Don’t wait another moment to give your life purpose or get involved in something you believe in.  Do the things you want to do now, not later.  For today is what we have. 

Thank you, Alex, for touching my life.  All the love in the world to your family and friends.  We miss you.

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3 Responses to “Thank You, Alex”

  1. Bob Maszczak July 16, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    This is a very touching post and a timely rmeinder for us all. As the years pile on, we are brought to the realization that life truly is finite and the road we’re travelling will end up being a dead end (pun intended). We sometimes realize, albeit too far along in the life process, that we truly have been blessed along the way with friends. relatives, lovers and acquaintences who in one way or another heloed shaped our lives or perhaps the route we were travelling, and never really took the instant in the present to acknowledge and appreciate their efforts – big or small. Sometimes we arrive at a point in life where we search out those who have made a difference to say thank you or let them know how some moment in a class, a bar, a church, a theatre, a synagogue, a workplace or even a taxi had an effect on our lives. More importantly, we may hopefully verbally express our gratitude for even ths smallest of gestures – a smile. We are all connected to every other living thing and share a brief time together journeying through the Universe where specks of stardut accumulated and made possible a home to share and shape and live a life of gratitude and oneness. To those who have travelled with me on my journey, I wish you peace, love and gratitude for what you have or have not. You all have helped me to shape my journey and from each of you I have learned. Peaceful rest to Alex whose journey has ended all too soon. Your values, gratitude and love will multiply through those hearts and souls you’ve touched along the way.

  2. artemiswins August 21, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    Smiley, I didn’t know you went to Wesleyan. Just wanted to let you know that Alex Okrent was very much on Wesleyan’s mind last semester, from blog posts to slam poems to commemorative speeches. Super tragic when the world looses someone who just shouldn’t be lost.

    Side note- im also planning on going abroad next semester to Argentina- perhaps we could chat about that sometime.

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