Sunday, June 26, 2011

Remembering: If we don't, we will lose memory's values.

Tomorrow will dawn the 27th of June, 2011.  Once again we have entered summer in the northern hemisphere. It's getting hot and in many places remains unseasonably wet; while others are equally dry. In the southern hemisphere, the seasons are plowing into the winter months. The exact opposite of us in the northern version.

But for me, it's not of season that my mind wanders.  No, it's to an anniversary.  One that I do not cherish. Rather I loath. It brings me only sorrow and the reminder of a loss I am still not able to deal with.  Three months ago tomorrow ... on the 27th of March of this year, one of the best friends I've ever had, passed away - after nearly month in hospital after suffering a stroke while riding his bike.

There is not a day that passes; oft times many moments during each day; where I am not reminded of the intense friendship I had with Paul Lindenberg of Johannesburg, South Africa. Paul and I never met, face-to-face, in real-time.  We met online by an act of serendipitous fortune and developed a friendship as strong as any I've been privileged to know in a F2F world.

My world has not stopped, but it has been severely crippled.  I can only imagine how these past three months have been for his wife Lindsay, sister Stephanie and close relatives. I know, as member of the legions of friends  on six continents, that Paul's death has had a profound and moving effect on many of us!  I hear weekly from many of these friends; several a communal friends of mine as well.  Some I hear from a couple of times a week.  We all share the loss of Paul in common.  None of us have gained any form of grip on this loss.  We've just learned to 'live with it'... as one might say.

I have a very strong spiritual root base, so I have that to hold onto for solitude and guidance. But nothing exists to relieve the pain of loss. And - in my way of thinking - nothing should.  No one wants to suffer the pain of loosing a dear friend or relative. However, those of us who are no novice to the experience, understand the long-term prospect does offer a benefit for our lives and others.  Loss does make the heart grow fonder.

In remembrance of Paul, I post here - for the first time - the memorial I wrote about Paul. I was honored that his family chose to read it to those gathered for his memorial service.

Remembering is a labor of need. We need to remember.

If we do not work at keeping the memory of people, places  and events, they will fade from our consciousness and we may loose the most valuable essence of our relationships or experiences.  This would be a most sad affair.  This is what the heritagekeeper lives for: inspiring others to see and engage in the importance in remembering their past and passing it forward to generations to come.

I want others to know there was a man of vision, talent, generosity, integrity and life ... who walked among us, but is no longer.  Yet his memory is still very much alive and is worth being lit from time-to-time to remind of WHOM he was, is, and will always be in our hearts and minds.

Remember your loved ones; your friends; your close acquaintances who are no longer with you. Pass on to others their memory and the art of heritagekeeping will also be passed along as a treasure to generations to come.

Memorial to Paul Lindenberg ...

my friend, my colleague, my bruI write this memorial, in a most saddened state of being.  Paul Lindenberg’s passing on Sunday 27 MAR came as a shock... a horrible shock.


Paul was a consummate professional in whatever he took on to do. His photography was tight, thoughtful, engaging, informative and down-right enjoyable. His skills as a computer programmer were second to none.

Paul loved photography. It didn't matter if the subject was someone on a city street, a sleek aircraft slipping though the air, a partially hidden antelope in the bush, a kid 'hot-doggin' it on the BMX track, the sleekest new bike or motorcar in production on a show block, or a newly minted wonder of the floral world, Paul loved taking photos of them all.

His love for all forms of life that could be framed in his viewfinder; people, places, events, city life to wildlife and the wilds of all places in between the heavens and the earth, were exhibited throughout his photographic work.

A tour of Paul's Red Bubble account shows the level of his photographic prowess. Whatever he pointed his lens at was presented to the viewer in a most pleasing and engaging manner. You could not walk away from one of Paul's photos. You left when it let you go.

Paul maintained an exceptional gallery of images on his Flicker account, as well; known there as the SpotlightKid. The pages upon pages of this gallery are filled with numerous images of his expanded technique and experienced photographic eye.

Paul was also well known, respected and admired among the aviation community in Johannesburg. His fame took on an international flavor and following with the launch of his eMagazine: Le Cirque Volant. His capture of all manner of aviation transport, has been admired for years.  Many of his friends were of his shared passion for Planespotters. His absence from that community is now sorely missed.

PAUL and Me
I have been meeting people online for over twenty-five years now. I have a near 20 year membership in one online group, devoted to Fly Fishing. One of my good friends from that group, sometime around 1993 wrote of the people whom he had become acquainted with - on that group - were in his words, Friends Not Yet Met.  He took that saying from a William Butler Yeats quote,

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven't yet met.”

Odd, I can hardly imagine a time when I did not know Paul Lindenberg. Yet, there was a lot of time I did not know he even existed. My loss. Truly.  He, Paul, became for me, the epitome of a, Friend Not Yet Met.

Paul and I met through the social community devoted to image sharing, called Flickr, in February of 2007. I was searching for images of trout and fly-fishing for an art project I was developing. One return in my search turned up a screen-shot of a database for fly-fishing. I clicked and saw the profile handle, Spotlightkid. Details of the profile said this Spotlightkid was from South Africa. I thought, “What? Fly-fishing in South Africa? For what, carp?” I had an education coming.

I had NO IDEA just how much I’d enjoy it.

Going back over the archive of communication between us - and it is vast! - I have been astounded - no, SHOCKED! - at just how fast we moved on ideas and project concepts.

Unfortunately, due to health problems rapidly engulfing me at the time, I near as quickly, fell off the radar screen. Off and on for the next year and a half, I struggled to keep up with the projected plans. I was constantly falling behind and into the black-hole of depression and inaction and I knew in my heart, disappointing to Paul.

That really hurt.  It still does.  It always will.  But I will not let this feeling go negative. Instead I will direct it to positive ends. That would have been what Paul would have wanted.

Through it all; the darkness of depression, isolation, and disappointment; came this voice of calm and support in a most intriguing South African accent,

“Yea, Bru! You makin’ it okay there, Jimmy?”.

To which I would try to reply in positive kind. Despite my black cloud of despair being as obvious as the proverbial ‘wort’, Paul would pop back in with something like,

“No matter bru. You’ll get it straight. No rush. Hundred percent, eh! Say, let’s pop over and watch the flat-dogs ‘round a watering hole on the cam. What say?”

Or, we’d just take a tour of Africa in his photos or the online galleries of his or of photographic friends or associates. Regardless, he would pull my blithering butt right out of the mud hole and up onto dry ground and he’d  once again show me the daylight.

Paul is the only person on earth who ever called me Jimmy... and got by with it. I never liked that juvenile version of my first name, but somehow, when Paul said it, it just ... felt , well... welcome. And that's how it will remain. Paul will continue to be the one and - ONLY ONE - whom will ever call me by that name. And I will treasure it - always.

These are life experiences one does not forget. Something we miss to the utmost-of-missing, when they are gone.

It's here where these words of singer Joni Mitchell’s, Big Yellow Taxi - come roaring back into painful focus. From the chorus, the words burn deep and bring stark attention the need for diligence in making the most of everyday with those whom we care.

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone

Paul and I shared a keen interest in so many of the same things in life. Yet, growing up where we did, with such vast differences in our pasts, and our respective parts-of-the-world, life could not have placed us on more juxtaposed paths. Our life experiences were vastly different. Yet, none of the differences mattered. We had far too much alike - in common - to let any outlier bother us.

Our connection was immediate. We hit-it-off from the first keystroke.

I shall forever miss Paul and his quick uptake on any idea I would present. We had this incredible, Yin-Yang Thing going on. I’d mention an idea and he’d fill in the missing part. And we’d do the same in reverse. It was a bit spooky at times. But who cared?  We sure didn’t. It was just too much fun!

Oh, yes. I miss that immensely. I’ve missed it since the day I got the news of his accident. And that miss will not soon depart. On one hand I am so tired of hurting. I want my friend back. But, on the other, I really don’t want the pain to leave.

I’m afraid of forgetting him.

Paul and I went on dozens of ‘digital hunts’. We scoured the Internet in search of story ideas. We’d look for photos, videos, blog posts, and other digital tracks of interesting uses - of the newly developing digital technology - and their display. We’d share our finds in emails and then take ‘live hunts’.  While connected via Skype, we'd take off across the pans, savannas, mountains, forests, deserts, oceans and urban landscapes of the Internet in search of our quarry: Hot new digital species and their environments. We had a grand time and found such incredible places. All the while sharing the finds together.

This is how all relationships form. Common interests. Common dreams. Common goals. When accomplished  together, over a period of time, participants become common friends.  For some, as Paul and I, the result  unfolds in an uncommon friendship. We became, as his native South Africans say... Bru.

There is no way I can forget Paul.

Every time I log into my regular haunts .. Paul's name and photo will always be there. It is painful to see these memory icons now.  But I know, that in-due-time, the pain will be replaced by an extremely comforting awareness of having my  Bru there with me, again, in all those places we dug for digital treasures together.

In December 2009 I met another Red Bubble member, by the name of Pieter Zaadstra owner of Zaadstra Art Gallery, in Gravelly Beach, Tasmania. I formally introduced Pieter to Paul - via a Skype call - in April 2010 and immediately we became a trilogy of ideas, collaboration and projects.

Paul and I had formed our publishing group eDIGImag within the first few months of 2007. It languished between my illness and recovery. Now,  Pieter formally tossed his lot in with us in early 2010, and before long the Three eDIGImigos had hatched a reall doozey of an idea, for bringing Pieter into the mix, called ZaadTrek.

The engines roared. We were dizzily cranking out ideas and plans for the next 10 years! Yes... 10 years. ZaadTreks to highlight the launch of our flagship publication, LAT.LON. After a long discussion on where to begin - we all agreed, South Africa would be a perfect fit. Plans were launched.

Then we were all struck with a tragic news report. Paul’s brother-in-law, sister Stephanie’s husband, David Tennant, owner/founder of Dave Tennant Safaris. had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The three of us watched through Paul’s conversation and regular reports, as David fought  long and courageously, but eventually losing his battle for life in August 2010. It was for me... another - Friend Not Yet Met - that shall go forever, unmet.

Pieter landed in South Africa in November of last year (2010), spending 3 weeks visiting areas Paul had procured accommodations and access to. Pieter wandered about collecting data that would become part of our production plan: One book each year, for the next five (5) years and eMags expanding on the areas covered, delivered on a monthly basis. We were set to Premiere launch in April 2011.

Life is learning how to deal with unexpected interruptions along the linear timeline. But explosions like the loss of Paul … well, those just stop the timeline completely.

Pieter, at least, had opportunity to meet Paul. For this, I am quite happy. I am however saddened that I did not - nor, will now - have such a luxury. Another, Friend Not Yet Met, I’ll not meet.

Paul and I were kindred spirits. We shared so much in common that any difference was rendered, invisible.

Such a kinship of mind and kindred of spirit is truly rare. If you or I can experience this pleasure but once in a lifetime, then we must consider ourselves extremely blessed. And I do. I truly do. But still, it does not keep me from feeling robbed of future years, sharing unique and wonderful experiences with such a unique person as Paul.

That truly hurts.

What am I to do now...? This is a question I keep asking myself. The void is deafening.

Please, DO remember Paul's family in your thoughts and prayers. This is a very difficult time for them.

As well, don't forget Paul. Visit his RedBubble, Flickr, and many other sites across the Internet to constantly refresh your mental picture of Paul, his work, his legacy and what he will always mean to you.  I will have a complete list of Paul's, online presence, on the eDIGImag site.

Keep the Spotlightkid alive in your hearts and memories. Keep Harry Black running through the brush and engaging his audience with excitement and life.

And do not forget to keep all the others: Yes, those whom all of us have lost - to whatever tragedy before their time ... or in their due time. Keep them alive in your hearts, your memory and tell others -OFTEN- of how much you care for them. Share their stories and importance - in your life - with others.

Pass on their lives and legacy to the future. Keep the heritage of their Spotlights burning bright.

Thank you Paul.

I WILL keep your Spotlight burning. In my feeble hand, your Spotlight will tremble for a time. But I do hope and pray, that, in-that-time, I shall be able to hold your memory steady.

Your light - your life - may have left us, but your Light - that wonderful part of you that inspired, caressed, excited and warmed us with your pleasant demeanor, catchy character, charm and wit - that Light, we will keep lit and it will go forth.

The only OUT your Light shall see, will be when it is being sent OUT to those whom we contact. Where ever we go, to whomever we connect, they too, shall know a bit of the Light that was - and will always be - the Spotlightkid.

Till another time and place. I will remember. I will tell. The story of the Spotlightkid and Harry Black.

The man who was, is and always will be my colleague, my friend, my Bru - Paul Lindenberg.

Your bru ... les ‘jimmy’ booth