There are people who come into your life at times and make a big impact. Teachers, friends, family members, sometimes strangers, who impact you in ways that fundamentally shape who you are.
Ronn was that to me.
Ronn was a collaborator, a conspirator, a partner in hijinks, and in building community. We shared a love for many things. For the collaborative process that produced the performing arts, for cognac and philosophy, for rock and roll and the Tao, for Buckminster Fuller and Lou Reed, for a well-crafted story, and of course for the appreciation of a beautiful woman.
Ronn was a dear friend to me and in many ways, I considered him a mentor. I was 19 when I met Ronn. What I expected to be my life’s path was recently disrupted by a series of events landing me in Santa Cruz working, or actually not working, at a hotel that was now to be closed for an undetermined period of time, due to an earthquake of great magnitude.
Ronn immediately took me under his tutelage, extending my training in the art of stage craft. It was through Ronn that I learned about dimmer load calculations, about seeing light, about observing sound, about listening to silence. It was Ronn who taught me how to translate the ideas of a playwright into the color of a cyclorama. It was also Ronn who taught me how to create a tax-exempt organization, to read a balance sheet and how to write a compelling grant application.
But more than what Ronn taught me, it was how Ronn lived that is the part of Ronn that lives within me today. Ronn lived in the best way he could. I did not know Ronn to compromise his values for anything. He lived the life he wanted to live and he wanted to live the life he was living. He lived modestly, He lived compassionately, He lived honestly, and every day that I knew Ronn, he lived in service.
Due in no small part to the influences Ronn has had on my life, I am continually asking how I can be of service. It is a selfish question, as I have come to learn that it is through service that I am best fed and rewarded.
I do miss him. We had many an inside joke that was completely lacking in any explainable humor, yet could keep the two of us rolling on the floor for hours. Every year on the anniversary of the most magnificent transition that I am sure I will ever witness, I remember Ronn in some way. It’s how I keep those jokes from disappearing. It’s how I sustain the laughter.
If you knew Ronn, I’m guessing there is a pretty good chance he provided you with something, at some point. Tax help, technical assistance, some good advice, a kind ear? I invite you to take a moment to think of his bright blue eyes and close your eyes in a moment of gratitude. If you didn’t know Ronn, I’m sure you did, just in another form, with another name.
Say thank you.