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Chief Joseph and John Cali
from the August 2009 Star Beacon
by Chief Joseph and John Cali
my 33-year-old next-door neighbor, died last week. Nearly everyone
is saying he died too young, and what a tragedy it is.
Can we die too young? And is it a tragedy if we do die young?
Here is part of Danny’s obituary from our local
“He was a free spirit and loving person. He loved life and lived
it to the fullest. He never met a stranger. ... He was the best
kind of trouble, the kind you knew had nothing but love for his
friends and family. He loved to play hard, fight hard and laugh
from all the way down in his giant heart.”
With his long hair, earrings, and tattooed, tall
muscular body Danny was a formidable sight. I’ve known him only
about four years. But that was long enough to appreciate this
gentle giant of a man. He was always laughing and joking. If his
family or friends needed him, he’d be there in an instant. As his
obituary said, he never met a stranger, and everyone was his
His obituary sums up Danny’s short life perfectly — he
lived every day fully and joyfully. What a powerful role model for
Here’s Chief Joseph.
Friends, you’ve got to get over this “death thing” you
Stop thinking in terms of death and start thinking in terms of
life. Life is all there is. There is no death except in your human
minds. That death is pure illusion. It doesn’t exist.
Most of you reading this already know what we just said. But you
don’t live as if you know it.
Danny is not gone. He’s with his family and friends, all those he
loves still, in a far more powerful way than ever before.
The veil between life and death is growing thinner. You never lose
those you love. The bonds of love, the connections of
communication are always available to you, “dead” or “alive.” No
So, did Danny die too young? No.
Is dying young a tragedy? No.
Friends, you have such strange ways of measuring or judging life
and death. You usually judge life by how much material success you
achieve. You usually judge death by the number of years you lived.
None of that makes a damned bit of difference! It just doesn’t
Danny lived his short life joyfully. He brought that joy — it was
always contagious — into the lives of all who knew him. Family,
He decided he’d spread enough joy in this lifetime. Now it was
time to spread more joy in the realms of spirit. It doesn’t get
any better than that.
You cannot judge a life (your own or anyone else’s) by its length.
The only true measure of success in life (or death) is the amount
of joy you feel.
Danny was more successful than most humans.
We’ll echo John’s words here: Godspeed, Danny!