Life is so sudden, and then its gone. Sometimes the only one I have to hold on to permanently is not people at all, but memories of those people.

Scott Silcox, 5th grade, Mrs. Adams. He was more hyperactive than I. He was shorter than I, we got along because no one else got along with us, we were always in trouble together. I remember we both liked the digital underground, and he showed me that sitting in the back of the bus was to the advantage for boys like us. I moved to Florida shortly after 5th grade, never heard or saw him again.

David Koontz, we were both 13 years old, he lived outside the city limits, he lived in a trailer, but his home was like an empire of activity. We built forts, burnt He-Men in epic battles, and even swear to this day that skeletor almost came out of the fire at us. We talked of girls as if we knew what we were talking about. We would go camping, and he taught me about the outdoors, and still to this day those were some of my favorite memories. He pursued art, then girls and mind altering substances, we have lost contact altogether. Last I heard he was a trace DJ in Orlando somewhere.

Heath Burgett, 7-10th grade, taught me to sing, or at least harmonize because his voice was so incredible. He was the envy because I never felt I could match up, or even come close. He seemed to have it all. While playing capture the flag we swear to this day that we saw a moving object way up in the sky go very slow... then turn do a 180 quite quickly, then turn back around and soar past us so quick, we believed in UFO's, at least for the next week. He was a good friend, and I had a crush on his older sister. He taught me that life isn't about what you do or look like, its who you are. I didn't believe him. He went on to pursue music getting signed on Interscope, I went off to college. We talk occasionally.

John Beward, 11th grade, He was a certified Polk County, Florida REDNECK, and being punk rock it was never meant to work out we would be friends. Working at Pizza Hut has a way of humbling people and also bringing them together for a common task, spending countless weekends making fast food. We became good friends after he put his dip into my dad's x-boss's barbecue pizza. He was a little more vengeful than I, and he taught me that I shouldn't let people walk on me. He also taught me that there is a whole culture underneath a hood, and there's nothing a little ducktape couldn't fix. He joined the military, got married and we lost contact for several years.

Melissa, Junior-Senior in College. I broke up her engagement to some pansy, sure I thought she was attractive and an amazing artist but even more attractive is the fact that I could make her see that there are better people out there than that loser. Call me a home wrecker but I prefer a quasi-super hero with an overactive savior complex. We dated, it didn't work out on a theological level. She taught me that who oneself is makes all the difference in the world, and that no matter how much we want to change the other person in our romantic lives the essence of human beings should be to stay true to oneself. She was an amazing artist and once drew me a picture of Marilyn Monroe that must have taken HOURS! Last I heard she was engaged to another guy who was "amazing" and treated her "soooo well". She called me James (after the fad of James Dean movies I liked so much at the time.), I called her dizzy in return. I have no idea where in this world she is, and most likely will never see her again.

Its amazing how that we are the composite of everyone we have ever met. You are intertwined with people. The belief system you have... you did not come up with it, someone told you about it. You chose to accept it. Other ideas you have rejected. I believe in nature and nurture, but in some context if we were left alone our entire lives what would we believe? Nurture by parents, peers, mentors, and even people we play teach and speak into our lives more than we may ever admit or think about.

How have you spoken into others lives? Has it positive or negative? Realize that you are not "an island unto yourself" but you effect your immediate surroundings, and everyone you come in contact with... either positive or negative.

-stephen

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