Sunday, April 22, 2012

Jim Kenneth Smith 1949 - 2011

Last night I found out that Jim Smith passed on September 16, 2011.  This is a late tribute to a talented man with a big heart.  I hope some of his many friends find their way here.  If you are one of those friends, please add your stories of Jim.

Throughout his life, Jim had many personas - carpenter, buddhist ascetic, house-sitter, runner, carver and artist, actor, body worker, men's movement pioneer, advocate, street outreach worker, real estate agent, and no doubt many others lived out during the years before or after our time together.  With his keen intellect, humor both wicked and subtle, uncanny talent to mimic and recite lines and lines of fictional dialogue, he could have easily been a traveling bard of old.   I still have some of his favorite books -  the Wooster and Jeeves series by J.P. Wodehouse.  It was with the subtle, subdued butler Jeeves that Jim identified.  He was quite taken with the ritual of ancient Japanese culture - the bushido code of the samuri that defined a path of structured service.  Gifted being and caring friend that he could be, Jim's soul was pierced from earlier lost loves and some darker angst.  He would sometimes become overwhelmed with a sense of alienation and despair, haunted by what he perceived as his personal shortcomings.

Jim  once said he was only a hitchhiker, sharing the "ride" with me for a short time. Starting in 1995, that ride stretched into six years and traveled through some of the more challenging passages of my life path.  His encouragement and support truly helped me complete three difficult years of graduate school in an external degree program.  Ultimately, when my life began to flourish he chose a single path.  I missed him deeply.  The companionship we often shared was a pleasure for me as was our shared love of so many activities.  Jim and dogs spoke the same language.  They were drawn to him, a friend to all dogs.  In 1999 his dog Eve  passed with her head  in his lap as he sang her through her passage into death.  While Jim helped many dogs enjoy their lives, he never again had a dog of his own.

During the time I knew him, Jim enjoyed fine cigars, movies - Gary Oldman was one of his favorite actors, hiking,  intellectual exploration, music, carving, baking bread, hiking, encounters with friends and acquaintances when he could let his quirky humor play freely, political discourse, herbal wild crafting, local tribal events, cats, dogs, and driving (for anyone, to anyplace).  Once when I was considering moving to Redmond, Oregon he made the trip just to check out the area for me.  While Jim was capable of great intimacy, he was also easily abraded by the intertwining energies of a shared life. It was not my choice to end out time together.  I will always treasure the pleasure of his company, his kindness, humor, desire to help out whenever possible, and the way that no matter what he "had my back".

My condolences to Jim's mother, brother, and sister-in-law.  I know he loved them deeply.

Here is a link to an online "guest-book" - click HERE.