I am equal parts sadness and gratitude as I write this post. My friend Joe “Ninja” Northup (or “Sai” as my band of martial arts crazies knew him) passed away yesterday after battling brain cancer for six years. Though I have known him for over 15 years, I am truly grateful that we were able to deepen our friendship these past two years. The proximity helped (I moved down to Los Angeles in August 2012), but more than geography, it was his psychology that drew me near. Despite facing one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer (Oligoastrocytoma) and round after round of chemotherapy, he committed himself to living as long, lovingly, and completely as possible. Ask anyone who knows him and they will confirm that he succeeded on all counts.
Case in point: he had long dreamed of trying stand-up comedy, so he actually went and did it instead of just “talking big but acting small” as so many of us tend to do. Despite being his first time on stage, he crushed it in front a packed house of comedy fans in a city known for being notoriously unsupportive of inexperienced comedians. And it wasn’t just his friends that loved the show; the video went viral on Upworthy and currently has more than 47,000 likes on Facebook!
Seeing him living his dream up on that stage made me reflect on the many things I had dreamed of doing but had been too scared or lazy to begin. Inspired by his example, I started improv classes a few months ago and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire life! Thank you Joe for the much needed kick in the ass.
What are your dreams? Whether it’s getting in shape, learning new language, vagabonding across Asia, performing on stage, writing a book, or starting a new entrepreneurial venture, start today. Don’t wait until “the right time” comes. It won’t. As Tim Ferriss shares in The 4-Hour Workweek:
“For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up all the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually,’ just do it and correct course along the way.”
I miss you so freaking much Joe, but I am comforted by the fact that you will live on in your daughter Olivia’s smile, in your wife Erica’s laugh, and in the hearts and minds of the thousands you have inspired.