How do you honor the people in your life who you lose far too soon? How do you carry on their memory? How do you embody all the things they taught you, showed you, helped you to grow into?
My mind wanders through these questions after a week of climbing with Matt K and his mission to raise awareness and money for Climb For Kids, www.climbforkids.org, in memory of his daughter. While climbing Mont Blanc, AGAIN, isn’t my favorite work, the mission, to climb it for a reason was, though still painful!!, rewarding. As Matt delved into his heart, mind, and memory on the summit of Mont Blanc, all the steps that had taken him there, both physically and emtionally, and tears poured from his eyes I had to respect his journey, his mission, and his commitment to honor the memory of his daughter and the journey of his family, and try to help others through raising awareness and funds.
My most recent loss, and I say most recent, because while we live in a life of passion, and passionate people, we embrace a lot of loss as well, was of a close friend and mentor, Jonny Copp. Jonny Copp, Micah Dash, and Wade Johnson were tragically killed in an avalanche in China just a few months ago.
The last time I saw Jonny, he and Micah Dash were living in my semi-demolished new apartment. I had ripped walls out, and doors off, but not started any renovations. Jonny asked if they could crash there. I said sure, but there is no shower and the toilet has no walls, so you might want to get a shower curtain. Ahh and there is not stove. But it fit the bill, it was free 40 square meters of roof, a flushing toilet, running water, a fridge, and a bed in Chamonix.
When I returned from Alaska there was a plastic shower curtain with blue fishies on it, hanging around the toilet. There were a handful of camping stoves set up on the counter, and stuff (mostly mine) piled in every corner. There were thermarests tucked into each corner and a guitar Jonny had found to borrow for the time he was here. My semi-demolished home was full of wine, laughter, and music. The first night I slept there, I remember meandering through conversation with Jonny perched in a corner on the floor, and me tucked cozily in my bed, as lightning flashed in the window and thunder resonated across the glacier perched precariously up the valley above my apartment. We giggled and conspired, our conversation ran deep and wide as it always did with Jonny.
We spoke of the film festival he had created and a vision of brining it to Chamonix. I was thinking small, a few films, Jonny was thinking HUGE as he always did. It scared me the thought of huge.
What if no one comes, what if it fails?
It won’t, said Jonny with conviction. If you build it with your heart.
That sort of conviction in his passions, in his dreams was so large it was hard to fathom. I wanted to have a fraction of that sort of confidence. As we started working on the festival, life became too busy, too complicated and my bank account too empty. So I had to step away from working on the festival, sadly.
In the light of hearing of Jonny’s death, I realized that the festival had fallen, in part, into my hands. It was up to me to carry on Jonny’s spirit, dreams, work, and conviction. So I asked to re-join the team and help to finish one of Jonny’s last projects.
With a lot of effort, hard work, time, a bit of red tape, by a handful of amazing people at the Adventure Film office in Boulder Colorado, Dylan Taylor (who joined the team to help make things go), Raphael LaGrange (who was already working with the Festival), the town hall (especially Cathy Meot), Patagonia Europe and USA, and many other locals and seasonaires, we sent off the first film Adventure Film Festival in Chamoinx!!!
Over two nights there were more than 500 attendees, fantastic beer and food served by the MBC (Micro Brassarie de Chaomnix) and the Vert. Paraponting air spectacles performed by the Acro-twins. After parties with local bands and DJ’s. And many diverse films watched.
As the festival wrapped up, I was exhausted and satiated. I was left wondering how Jonny juggled so many balls. How he dreamed so large and made them all come true. How he inspired people into action and motion and life. And I was sadened to have lost him. But only in body, not in spirit, or action.
So, I guess, in conclusion to my own questions, how do you honor the memory of someone, you act through their inspiration and through that you keep their spirit and essence alive eternally.
So…I hope to see you all next year at the 2nd ANNUAL Adventure Film Festival in Chamonix, because we will continue to keep Jonny’s spirit, inspiration, and dreams to share art, adventure, stories, erase boundaries, and just take time out of our life to be together with friends and meet new people, through Adventure Film Festival Chamoinx!