Brewing Thoughts on Life and Death

It seems only appropriate that as I sit here looking out the rounded rectangular window of the plane taking me home from Chicago I am finally inspired to write.

It’s fitting really. It’s what you would’ve done.

You took advantage of every moment of your life. Whether it was a train ride, a coffee shop, a walk around town, or a frequent business flight, you pursued productivity.

Productivity is a confusing word, most often associated with work, but when I think about your productivity I think about it as encompassing all the facets of life, or at least the life you lived.

If it was a coffee shop, you were likely pursuing a productive post on your Instagram account. A train ride — usually in some foreign country — was a productive gulp in quenching your thirst for adventure. A walk around town was your chance to catch up with a friend — an old one, a new one, or a productive opportunity to make one. And on a plane, you were probably productively typing away on a new blog post.

And as I’ve sat to comprehend the loss that all of us are facing, I have tried endlessly to craft a fluid, cogent essay the way I know that you would have. But as I started each time to put the words down, I found there wasn’t a way for me to connect all the dots.

In your far-too-short time with us you were the one who truly understood the world.


Over the past days our internet feeds have flooded with outpourings of love.

(quick aside — I think you’d be especially happy to see how we’ve all connected digitally from distances near and far to celebrate your memory, because as you once observed it’s only through real experiences that we have anything to document on social media anyway)

A common theme has emerged. Everyone’s sentiments have drawn from A Brewing Thought. It’s a testament to your complete comprehension of life that the only words any of us can find in this time of sadness are the words you wrote yourself.

And so, rather than share my own words it seems only right that I share your words, because, frankly, right now those matter more, and they’re the only words that can help with the loss we’re feeling…the only words that can motivate us all to push forward into the future the way that you’d demand we do.

So without further ado here are, many brewing thoughts on life …

  • “Learning is easier if your interest is real.” — Pivoting Into Start-Ups
  • “And what is life if not a series of experiences?” — Flashpacking a Month(ish) of Travel
  • “Fight against inertia; and do things that truly matter” — An Essay on Life
  • “38) Be a good friend. Try your hardest to do something because it’s the right thing, not because you ‘expect something in return.’ Be spontaneous; plan a future. Spend late nights talking, sweaty August afternoons helping people move. Early mornings nursing hangovers over black coffee; earlier mornings up for a run. Go on trips; stay local. Try great restaurants; cook amazing meals. Write a bucket list; cross items off that bucket list. Share your deepest secrets; make new ones.” — An Open Letter to Michigan Freshmen
  • “It was going to be a challenge: professionally, personally, and intellectually. It was the direction that my writing and networking and passions and curiosity had been leading towards. …and who doesn’t love a challenge?” — An Update on Life + Work
  • “One lifetime is not enough to experience all cultures. But travel, especially while young, is an essential step to becoming more aware of other cultures and people (in addition to see the beauty of the world around us.)” — Travel While You’re Young
  • “We need to carry on, through the darkness, without turning. We are all runners; we are all humans. We are the father or the mother of a child lost. And our hearts break and break, but we live by breaking.” — On the Marathon (and a Morning Run)
  • “We’re gonna believe in each other, we’re not gonna criticize each other, we’re not gonna talk about each other, we’re gonna encourage each other. And when we play as a team, when the old season is over, you and I know, it’s gonna be Michigan again, Michigan.” — Bo Schembechler — On the Team (A Michigan Post)
  • “I remember looking out and seeing the lights. And as the campus lay before me I remember thinking how remarkable it was that in four short years, a school that was so big could feel so small.” — Victors Valiant
  • “We project our issues so that, like any generation before us, we know that our insecurities and uncertainties are shared with others. We discuss hoping to find answers and community, not merely searching for likes.” — On Grouper and Millenial Dating
  • “Everyone will at one point or another struggle with a love born or lost, a relationship in or out of control, and secrets kept or not.” — On Frank Ocean
  • “It’s important to have perspective — to realize where that moment fits into a lifetime full of moments.” — Are You Busy?
  • “As a generalization, people love memories. We’re nostalgic for our first loves — a kiss, a dance, a snow-day” — 21st Century Photography Filters and Self Destruction
  • “But maybe that’s what we are as characters. Certain characteristics can be more apparent than others, but aren’t we all really a complex collection of different beliefs and relationships and experiences?” — Talking About Girls
  • “Women everywhere bring knowledge and skills that this country desperately needs to continue to thrive, innovate, and grow.” — Binders Full of Thoughts
  • “It’s important to have experiences, real ones–conversations and debates with friends, trips around the world, a struggle through a first job or first love. And it’s important that these connections have depth beyond a LinkedIn request and approval.” — Logging Off (When We’re Always On)
  • “The world is filled of people with interesting stories. Whether you find a new friend or future significant other, go meet these people and make your own story.” — Loving Love

You were never shy of grand sweeping statements that are easier to put down in writing than to deliver in a speech. The last lesson any of us would need from you is to look forward into the bright future, and world, that we’ll have to live to its fullest in your honor…

“The past is important. Lessons learned propel us forward.
Nothing is more important than the relationships we’ve made.
But the future is a blank slate.
What will you do with it?” — Is It Too Late