Years and years ago, while watching the mainstream culture move ever farther away from what I considered good sense, and wondering if I should go with them, or hew to my own path, however clouded or obscure it might get, I heard the only definition of success I have since considered worth considering: “Success consists of living the way you want to.” John went after what he wanted, got the most important part of that, and was, in his own way, one of the most successful people I have ever known.
Viva Juan! May he live in all our memories as long as we do, and after that in the way our lives — having picked up some of his ethos — positively influence others who see that not all that glitters is gold, and sometimes the most valuable stuff lies far off the beaten track.
In the meantime — and probably always — I will miss John, yes, but much more often think of him with a smile of deep admiration and loving amusement at all he got away with, got away from, and got away to, than I will think sad thoughts of his passing. John squeezed one enormous amount of juice out of the orange of life. I believe that had John at age 19 been given a pre-game video, so to speak, of his life as he did turn out to live it, and a second video of his life in a parallel universe where he instead went to law school and lived a “normal” middle-class American life never straying far outside the mainstream, and lived to a ripe old age vaguely wondering what he’d missed by not following his heart to the south, it would have been an easy choice for him. In fact, I actually belive that in a sense that did happen, as he looked ahead at a young age, and chose the path with heart. More power to him.