Not a bad year, just not great. Nice knowing you.

Sunrise in Geneva

Last week imagine my surprise when a holiday card arrived from my friend Bill Owen, who passed away in early October. A bristly 80 year old, William Henry Owen IV engineered the world around him to infinity and beyond.

As we all wonder (if only a little) whether the Mayans had this one right, predicting today will be our last, I’ve been thinking about Bill’s words and insights.

For years WHO4, as he referred to himself, combed through the Financial Times pink pages, which were delivered to his Virginia door each morning before sunrise. With some regularity, an unadorned manilla envelope would then arrive in my mailbox, containing articles on topics perfectly timed to fill in details on stories I was writing or projects holding my attention. It was as if even when we hadn’t seen one another, he was drawn to what mattered to the people who cared deeply about him. Yet he just as easily could move on to what was next.

That’s how I’d like to be remembered and that’s how I’ll always remember Bill.

He exemplified a quotations from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

Bill missed the tragic events in Connecticut, although I feel certain he’d have provided a thoughtful comment. Perhaps the closing lines of his holiday card can at least ground us in the reality (notwithstanding his trademark sarcasm) that comes from looking back on life’s final days.

“Not a bad year, just not great. Nice knowing you.” Wm. H. Owen IV

Here’s to the sun coming up tomorrow.


[CC Image from Patrick Nouhailler, Sunrise in Geneva]

Not a bad year, just not great. Nice knowing you.