Hello, for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Beth. Alex and I were partners for 2 ½ years starting in the fall of 2011. Our relationship was full of kindness, compassion, acceptance, adventures, nature and love. Alex taught me to give generously, love deeply, live simply and to be present.
Our days together were filled with hikes, runs and rides in beautiful places, trips to the coast with friends to run naked on the beach and swim in the ocean. Home cooked meals (which usually consisted of veggies, nutritional yeast/hippie dust, dates, and always lot of cinnamon). Alex filled my life and our home with magic- loves notes and poems and little surprises of crystals, precious stones, marbles and feathers he’d find during his adventures on the trail.
I am so sad that he is gone. But, I also feel such gratitude for him, his life and our time together.
Alex had a way of looking at the natural world that was almost unwordly. Where I would look up and see a beautiful forest, hear leaves blowing in the wind, smell the air, and watch the animals and birds doing their thing. Alex would see the depth of the forest and it’s connection to the animals. He could see, not just the sunlight through the trees, but each ray of sunlight and the energy each ray held. He understood, on a spiritual and almost cellular level, the connection each plant and animal had to one another and how THEY and WE are connected to the rivers, oceans, wind and sun. It blew my mind and heart wide open and was one of the things I admired the most in him. It’s also the piece of him that I will strive to embody for the rest of my life.
Alex’s favorite day of the week was Friday. There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, Friday was ALOHA Friday. According to Alex this is the day the Hawaiians emphasize being casual, playing outside and enjoying family and friends.
Alex’s Aloha Friday’s usually started with a long run up the mountain or ride in the orchards. Followed by Bike Club with the students from school. Alex would text me photos of the kids at the donut shop, ice cream shop, coffee shop and coop- their reward for a good ride. I was under the impression that the school had a policy against refined sugars and caffeine. One time I asked Alex if he was supposed to be letting them eat all that sugar and coffee. He shrugged and said, “It’s, fine, the kids know to moderate themselves”. Maybe that was true, but I also knew that Alex was never one to follow rules.
Afterwards, he might ride his bike around town, running errands or go home and relax on the floor. According to Alex, 10 minutes of lying on the floor, eyes closed, taking a break from any motion or busy work, allowing his body to be supported by the ground and earth was just as good as an hour of meditation.
Later that evening, he would teach the silent yoga class at the studio- his favorite yoga class to teach each week. Home for dinner and his Aloha Friday was complete. He had filled it exactly the way he wanted- with solitude in nature, connection with other, relaxation, cooking and yoga. All of the things that fed his spirit and made him happy. I don’t know how many people can say that about their day, but he always could.
Prior to Alex and I dating, he was my yoga teacher. All his yoga students can attest to the fact that Alex wasn’t your typical Bikram teacher. Most of the time, he would spend the 105 degree, 90-minutes class telling stories in between poses. The stories could be anything- from how he got pulled over by the Ashland motorcycle cop on his bike and given a $280 ticket for coasting through a stop sign, to educating us about the largest nut in the world which happens to be the coco de mer (aka- “the love nut”), or Turkish bath houses, or telling us one of his latest jokes- which got chuckles from a few, but confused looks from most.
The stories he shared, as outlandish as they were sometimes, always held a lesson about life and yoga. One such lesion he shared in class years ago, made a lasting impression on me and I have reflected on it many times in the last 3 weeks. Alex told our class, “The only way out is through”. When we enter the hot yoga room, we are committed to being there for the entire 90 minutes. And during those 90 minutes, uncomfortable things will come up, whether it be physical, mental or emotional. But we’re committed to staying in that hot, sweaty room, accepting what presents itself, honoring it and moving through it. “Life is the same way”, he said. You can’t crawl under it, jump over it or run around it. You also can’t avoid it and hope it floats on by. You breath and move through it- experience the pain, the discomfort, the vulnerability. And, at the end of those 90 minutes, or the painful life experience, you receive your reward. In yoga, the reward is a detoxified body, a calm mind, a nourished spirit. In life, the reward is growth, strength, understanding and a deeper appreciation for this one wild precious life.
“The only way out is through”. Whether Alex knew it or not, his presence, the sacredness and security he created in that hot, sweaty room and his beautiful, quirky stories, metaphors and analogies helped carry people through some of the toughest times in their lives, myself included. By reflecting on his life and the lessons he shared, we will continue to learn from him in his death.
Thank you all for loving Alex and continuing to hold his spirit in your heart. If he could speak to us today, I believe he would say “ALOHA”, which he always reminded me meant- hello, goodbye, and (most importantly) I love you.