In the Summer of 1994…


Steve Ives, from the United States writes: “In the summer of 1994 I was remodeling a house in the south hills of Eugene, Oregon. The structure was perched on a very steep slope and its only connection with the ground was a series of undersized wooden columns. By jumping from side to side, in the main living room for example, I could actually cause the house to wiggle. The first day on the job I ate my lunch on the deck that overlooked the valley below. I noticed The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying on the owner’s coffee table. The next day, when I broke for lunch, I saw the book was still there, so I opened it and started reading. I didn’t know a thing about Buddhism, but I found that I read well past my lunch break. I had no idea what tremors of change I would soon experience.

Shortly thereafter I purchased my own copy of the book. I was eager to share my new found excitement with my good friend Jim, a landscaper. Once a month we took a long hike and discussed “spiritual” ideas. We spoke on the phone and we agreed to get together when he returned from a camping trip in the Cascades Mountains. Instead, Jim drowned in a canoeing accident while paddling across a mountain lake at dawn.

Waldo Lake, the place where Jim Gordon drowned

Unable to share my excitement with him about The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, the passages in the book instead helped me comprehend and understand the grief I felt for my friend. I viewed everything completely differently. The hills in the town where I lived were steeper and closer to the sky. I could detect the essence of love in every person I saw on the street. Losing a friend was very sad but death was not to be feared. Eighteen years later the comfort I felt from experiencing The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying is as strong as ever. For that, I remain forever grateful.

Steve Ives is a home builder and writer from Eugene, Oregon, USA

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