It’s been awhile but I’m currently listening to a mixed CD you made and sending all my love.. You always had such solid taste in music. And this one will always remind me of you.
I’ll miss your sarcastic yet sweet gaze. Your passion for photography was encouraging and contagious and I’ll miss your wit and your consistent honesty. Feeling lucky to have known you. Your nonchalance and creative spirit lives on in all of us. Keep on exploring.
I see you across from me smiling, that was your natural state.
I see you listening with all the empathy in the world, I also see you in front of me story telling like no one else could, taking me on some of your unique adventures like I was there, giving me a taste of your truth seeking and freedom loving lifestyle. And your body language, goofy and always getting at the essence of what you were describing
I see you inspiring always to live more fully, sharing selflessly and never judging the other no matter how different from you they lived.
I see you feeling life so deeply it wasn’t always easy, like planet earth was never the final destination for your soul.
Finally, I see you always reaching out, wanting to connect and loving humans around you whoever they are.
You are nothing other than this one of a kind person one meets in a lifetime.
I am grateful for every moment we spent interacting one on one and with others. And today I see how you’ve made a cosmic impact on so many lives just like you have on mine and how your premature departure makes us all want to be better humans and interconnected
Thank you, friend, thank you Michael for crossing my path.
Love you to the stars and back
Today it rained for the first time since the last time
I knew it was coming. I could just feel it.
You died and I cried so hard I felt a rift open between dimensions.
The sky you traveled into shattered.
Reality has become so fragmented.
But it rained today and the earth smells like gratitude.
That appreciation that all things gravity bound permeate when the ethers condensate and touch down upon them… that richness. It smells like life, and hope, and growth.
Cycles starting again.
Today the air smells like peace, and maybe it’s the first time I’ve caught a full breath since you left.
Thank you, Michael Black
Excerpts of a letter written by Michael to his Grandmother
documenting his trip through the Himalayas, August, 2015
Nikolas and I decided to take the long way around the mountains to get to Ladakh documenting the Spiti Valley which is on the route. Since then we have ridden through much of the State of Himachal Pradesh. We have crossed within 5 kilometers of the Chinese border, through military zones and slept in cliff-side Himalayan villages taking photos along the way.
Yesterday was the most difficult day of our journey yet, crossing over 10 rivers on our motorcycles, some as deep as 3 feet with large rocks and waterfalls on either side of us. Some of the roads were pure mud, and my bike was sliding all over the place. There were giant potholes on the road. Herds of cows and yaks were crossing. We saw wild horses at 14,000 feet with the snow-crested Himalayan Mountains in the background. When we finally arrived in Keylong, our destination, my motorcycle luggage rack had broken in three places, the back chain sprocket had to be replaced, the throttle cable had broken and the air filter had fallen off. It was a difficult but fantastic experience.
Eight People who live in Greece and Germany have new opportunities because Michael Christopher Black chose to be an organ donor and his parents courageously honored his wish. Before he lost his life in a motorbike accident during a visit to the Greek island of Tinos, 30-year-old Michael was perhaps the most cheerful dishwasher in several Nevada County establishments as well as a talented photographer.
Among his gifts: Michael’s heart is now beating again in a 29-year-old man. A 54-year-old woman and a 45-year-old woman, who had been on dialysis for 13 and three years, respectively, were transplanted with Michael’s two kidneys. His liver was transplanted to a 62-year-old man.
The President of the Greek National Transplantation Organization described Michael’s selflessness: “Human solidarity and love for fellow human beings transcends borders…” Family friend Pamela Biery adds, “I feel very fortunate to have seen Michael just before his recent journey to Greece to wish him well and ask for a safe return. Regrettably, not all wishes come true.”
The last conversation
The last conversation that I had with Michael was iconic. This was before he left for Australia. We were speaking to some issues at hand in the moment, when he took my hand and said something so profound that he changed the whole conversation.
He had flipped it to a new level. I remember looking at him and recognizing a new authority in him, a breadth of experience, a solidity of inner voice.
Michael often surprised me in the way that the voices of old souls do.
Michael taught many people.
How to live your life unencumbered by tradition and expectations.
How to not get caught up in momentums.
How to travel without baggage.
He had courage.
And I want to acknowledge those who helped him gain this courage, who allowed him to be the delicate, empathetic, courageous human being that he was.
His many deep and abiding friends.
His parents who are experiencing this huge loss. You gave Michael to us.
So to Stephan and his mom Sally: thank you for nurturing this free abundant spirit and I am so sorry for your loss.
Bright, Curious, Open-Hearted, and Brave
Black and White. Michael and David. Young and older. Vagabond and householder. We were opposites in many ways.
Michael became my nephew when I found and wed his beautiful aunt, Kathleen. He dressed up for our wedding as a young teen. We hosted his rite of passage when, at the age of 18, he escaped small town Northern California for city life in the wilds of Portland. He lived with us for a time as he and his friends ventured out to experience life on their own.
He was bright, curious, open-hearted, and brave. He worked hard when he could find it – mostly on the bottom rung of the ladder. He was the abused dishwasher in an after-hours dive restaurant, pedaling back to our house in the rain at 4:00 AM. School was part of our deal with Michael. But academics couldn’t teach him what he wanted to know. He wanted to question everything and know everyone.
He could be exasperating for anyone who had some responsibility for his safety and well-being. He trusted when he shouldn’t. He was generous to a fault. He was absent-minded – losing his wallet, his glasses, his camera, his bike, his phone time after time. His focus was on bigger things and the wider world out there.
The Portland experiment ended eventually. He returned to N. Cal. And invented a life-style that fed his need to wander. He would work til he had enough money to travel – to Mexico, to India, to Europe, to Australia, and finally to a small Greek island, meeting locals and fellow wanderers along the way.
He found many friends and lovers. He survived by bonding with the places and people he met, planting trees, shooting photos and selling them on the street, developing an artistic talent and an eye for beauty and capturing the essence of the places he visited.
His work survives him and reflects him.
His life, cut short by a tragic accident, left its mark on many, many people who remember him for his kindness, his generosity, his intensity, and his sense of humor.
If the heft of a man’s life can be measured by the tributes he receives after death, Michael’s life was huge.
As I write this from a hotel room in India, I realize he left his mark on me, too. He reminded me that playing it safe in life relegates a person to the sidelines, limits ones choices, keeps relationships at the surface level, and changes nothing.
Thank you, Michael.
Just for One Day
Michael I knew you for just a day, yet that one day stands bolder than any other through what came to be a defining stage of my life – never has one man so encapsulated the true beat spirit of wandering adventurer than you, when I was dulled and down and doing something menial with my life in the days back home in the uk,
I would think back to that day we ate Vietnamese and both tried to get to India in a night, I always knew you’d burn like you did, you were always there, on the frontline of life- thank you for your eternal inspiration brother.
Rest in Peace Michael Black
It seems like just yesterday we hugged you
We drove you to the airport less than 1 month ago and just god knows how happy and excited you were for the new challenge and experience that was waiting for you!
It seems like just yesterday we hugged you, telling each other how soon we will be reunited again, maybe somewhere in europe… or in Cali, doing what we gotta do!
You were an amazing person filling people’s life and moments. One day coming back from work I remember you on the bus, sitting next to an elderly man and starting a conversation from nothing.
You kept it up for the entire trip home. you always found interest in any person or thing was around you, becoming the interesting person you were!!!
So much charisma you had!
Even when something wrong was goin on you were always positive.
I have so many little, hilarious, sad and beautiful moments spent together that keep popping in my head which i will never forget!
You were made of that kind of goodness to offer shots to an entire bar counter of perfect strangers; to offer me a 6 pack to cheer me up after a stupid ass fine; dinner for my birthday..
Had so much fun with you Mike! I need to let you know.. Pretending to be Djs on your laptop, fading tunes from youtube..
It hurts have to write this man!
May your rock n roll, adventurous, mad ass soul last forever through your photography. Your countless knowledge of music and movies. Through every single tree you planted, every single country you stepped on..
I feel to speak for every person you met here in oz, we fuckin love you mate!
It’s not easy meeting people who leave a mark on your soul instantly
That make you feel like you are important, smart, and appreciated. These men will forever leave an imprint on my heart for being the most generous, understanding humans. I feel so sad but at the same time so happy I had the chance of being part of their lives and enjoying their spirits.
Travel with the wind and the stars my friend