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Out of Our Minds
Monday, August 01, 2005 12:47 PM
A Philosophy of Life
Anita Sharpe on Life

I just returned from the funeral of an extraordinary person who lived an extraordinary, but too short, life. Neil Harkins, who died at age 47 in a kayaking accident, cheated death several times. Maybe because of that -- or more likely, because of the way he saw his time on this planet -- he had a knack for turning every day into an experience, an occasion, an adventure. This passage, written by naturalist Edward Abbey, was printed on Neil's funeral program:

'Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am -- a reluctant enthusiast. . .a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in and head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those deskbound people with their hearts in a safe-deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards.'


anita - 8/12/2005 9:18:40 PM
Ian: I also lost my dad when I was quite young. Like yours, he had also cheated death and -- much like yours -- didn't take a moment for granted.

I was extremely moved by your father's funeral service; it, and the stories about his well-lived, well-loved life, made a lasting impact on me. As you well know, he made a difference in the world and left the planet a better place. You, your mom and sister are in my continued thoughts.
Ian Harkins - 8/11/2005 10:28:16 PM
Ms. Sharpe,
I am Neil's son. Thank you for the kind things you wrote about him. He didn't biologically, but did spiritually really outlive the bastards. He was always taking me out in the woods, teaching me about the finer things in life, how to enjoy God's creation, a seed that he planted, and will always be a part of me. Thank you for coming to the funeral.
Ian Harkins
James Harkins - 8/8/2005 3:28:41 PM
Thnak you for your kind words Anita.
Jim Harkins
Janet Auty-Carlisle - 8/1/2005 3:10:19 PM
My condolences to you, he sounds like a wonderful person to have known.
We can all learn a lesson from a life lived like his.
Blessings and peace to you.
Living la vida fearless.


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