When I was in high school, I toured Boneyard Studios, a tiny house collective in the DC metro region. I met a man named Jay Austin, who built a tiny house by himself. He showed me his home, and I...
When I was in high school, I toured Boneyard Studios, a tiny house collective in the DC metro region. I met a man named Jay Austin, who built a tiny house by himself. He showed me his home, and I thought it was damn near one of the coolest things. Jay, despite being a bit older than I, had some of the same sensibilities as I did, I think. He and his girlfriend Lauren started an awesome round the world cycling trip and documented it in their blog Simply Cycling. Reading his words, I really do see myself in Jay, although I only ever met him once and he likely didn't even remember me afterwards.
One of the things Jay wrote was as follows:
You read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place. People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil.
I don’t buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own … By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind.
This amazing perspective is something I wish I was able to write myself. Because I truly believe it. Jay Austin is a man who I would look forward to seeing where his life takes him. I wish I could buy him a coffee and discuss the adventures he has had. The adventures that inspire me to think about where I want my life to take me.
Lauren, Jay, and several other cyclists were killed last Summer by several Tajikistani men who pledged allegiance to ISIS. I cried when I heard. And I didn't even know why. I felt as if Jay was a man not unlike myself. I find myself crying because, even though Jay comes from a totally different background than I, our shared values make me feel like we come from the same place. I feel like I lost someone closer to me than I really did. And even now, months later, I find myself, a grown adult man who really doesn't cry for any reason, crying again, as I write this post.
I really wish I believed in an afterlife. I wish I could shake Jay Austin's hand and tell him he is one of my role models. But I never will be able to. And in all honesty, I don't even know if I should be allowed to mourn someone I have hardly met, let alone how to go about it. So I guess I wrote this post.
I just wanted the world to know how much of a light, at least in my life, Jay Austin, a man I met only once, really was.