Noah J: Inspiration from a short life

Writings by Noah Preston Janssen / Intro & Commentary by EAV

There are a lot of reasons I want to be (and kind of am) a writer. I have fun writing, it’s a good way to release stress (though occasionally it causes more), and if I have a message I want to get out to a lot of people I can put it online and try to promote it globally. But the main reason is an awesome guy named Noah. I went to high school with Noah for only a year, and I knew him for less than a full year before he died in July 2008. I am working on writing my own tribute to Noah, with all the stories and pictures I have of him. It will explain how I unfortunately didn’t get to know him as well as I wanted to in the brief time that we knew each other, and why I really loved him.

But first I want to share some of Noah’s writing with you and the rest of the world. I have carried this packet of selected writings around with me since his parents gave them to us at a memorial for him in December 2008. He was a great writer and would have done more incredible things for this world if he only had the chance. Since he did not get that chance, it is up to all of us that knew him to spread his messages of love & living life to the fullest.

Today by NPJ

When

When will I be different

The person I want to be

But now

Now I’m different

Living in a time of no time

When

When will the soul be more powerful

Than the bomb

When

When will you and me

Be accepted

For who we are

When, you ask?

Now

Now’s the time to accept ourselves

Now will be when the time comes

The time when we are who we want to be

Because who we want to be

Is who we already are

Time has come

And gone

Now’s the time to go against time

When eons and minutes meet

And become one with us where souls live and

Bombs will rust away into dust, ash and salt

You

Me

We live now

Not tomorrow or yesterday

And life is squandered with the fear of

Death

Now there will be no death

Now’s the time when time

Steams off

The earth

Like water, boiling

And you, me, them, and us

Will live

Actually live

Now’s the time to live

Because tomorrow is now

Life is the only thing worth living

Living is the only thing worthy of life

Now’s the time, not tomorrow

Or yesterday

The time has come when the mind is

More powerful than the money

Now is the time

To live

And love this world

For its rights

For its wrongs

And stop fucking the fuckers and preaching in microphones

For when a wave comes to sweep us all free

It will not matter how many dollars we earned

Or how many songs we have sung

Or the number of guns we have fired

For that is not now

Look around

Is there anywhere but now?

So stop thinking about tomorrow, or yesterday

Only Today

For today is when we find peace

If not today, then never, for we have never known nothing but today

Today, the jester is the same as the king

And both their faces are hidden

It is time to rip the masks off

And see it all

The peace, war, rain, sun, all

So we can find ourselves on the top of that

Mountain

And float away, into the sunset

And come into another

Today

When is peace?

Today

Today…

[You can tell – he didn’t live long, but he lived a lot.]

Untitled by NPJ

As far as I have come in this life, I still do not know exactly what my academic journey will look like. However, I do know I would like to travel on this journey: walking through it one day at a time. Many see their academics as a precursor to the rest of their lives. They see learning as a burden that will send them to higher things. They would rather get their education over with and head off on their way. Instead, I would like to learn about everything while I have the chance. I yearn to enter the classroom and discover something wonderful and new every day. I do not only want to know the facts. I desire to know how these past events, people, ideologies, stories, pieces of literature, art, and music have shaped my own life. I wish to go past the words written in the textbook or spoken at the lecture. By the end of my adventure at college, I sincerely hope that I have learned enough about the past and future, so that I may truly understand myself in the present. I see myself one day as a teacher. I still do not know whether my teaching will occur inside the classroom, or elsewhere in the world. Yet, I do know that I wish to inspire the same excitement for learning that I have felt throughout my days. If I can change just one person’s life so that they crave to understand more, I know that I have changed the world, if only in one person’s eyes.

[Using this attitude in college made me love learning way more than I ever did as an apathetic high schooler. Noah was and is a great teacher. He has far surpassed his goal of inspiring at least one person.]

Senior Graduation Speech by NPJ

Well ladies and gentlemen, it’s over. Four years of detention, homework, tests, teachers we loved, teachers we hated, suspension, vice principals, getting creeked as freshmen, creeking freshmen, house parties, lame dances, Fox News coverage, snow days, and weekends have gone by. Many reminisce and think how quickly these four years have passed. Not me. That first day of school, all of us standing there, behind the gym, seems like ages ago. I believe it was the great Robert Nesta Marley who once said, “In this great future, you can’t forget your past.” We have come a long way. If I saw my freshman self sitting in the audience today, I would probably think to myself, “What a little punk.” We all have too many stories to count; and now, we stand here: looking backing at our past, and forward at our future. But that’s not what I came to talk to you about. Look around you. Among these faces are the doctors and lawyers, actors and rock stars, athletes and couch potatoes, garbage men and millionaires of tomorrow. But tomorrow, tomorrow’s too far away for me. I’m thinking about today. Look around once more. Many of these faces, you may never see again. I look out today, and I see Cowboys, Indians, astronauts, brothers in arms, warriors of the night, and rebels without causes, all living the good life. We’ve earned this. We have shed blood, sweat, and tears for this moment. These are the most care-free days of our lives, and I’m planning one hell of a time. So live it up. I know that by the end of this summer, we’ll be able to let our scars tell their own stories. We’ll be remembering these days until the end of our own. Some of us will travel the world to distant lands and others will walk the same streets that we have a million times before, but either way, we will have the greatest adventures that any of us have ever witnessed. This is just the beginning, and I plan on going all out. I plan on nights that don’t end until noon. I plan on meeting characters that not even the tallest of tales have seen the likes of. I plan on viewing history in the making, and making a little history of my own. But most importantly, I plan on kicking back with good friends. That’s what it’s all about. Before you know it, we’ll all be off in different directions, going wherever the wind takes us. But hell, I guess that’s the way the whole darned human comedy keeps perpetuating itself, down through the generations, westward the wagons, across the sands of time. It’s good knowing we’re out there, Boulder High School, Class of 2008, taking her easy for all thoe sinners.

[Noah wasn’t chosen as one of our speakers, which is lame. As good as our speakers probably were, I don’t remember any of them. Noah’s words are unforgettable.]

Dumpster Land by NPJ

Somewhere, a child, he cries through the night

And clings to the only things he knows

The wind, it’s wisdom, and the rain’s soft sounds

And the blanket of falling snow

There is a place where vagabonds roam

Where the dumpster meets the sea

A place where we all must go

Where from the body, the soul is free

I hear the child’s falling tear

As I lie face down on my bed

But rather than splashing into the ground

It heads toward the sky instead

The maid cleans up the rainbow’s mess

And the sun decides to sleep

The only thing besides the moon

Is the broom’s weary sweep

The teardrop finds the ocean floor

And my heart comes home as well

I don’t really know where heaven is

Maybe it’s the same thing as hell

And my heart, it is laughing loud

I have come back to my roots

My blood has become one with my friends

The eagles, ants, and owl’s hoots

I love this street I walk along

And this earth on which I stand

The lessons I’ve learned within this life

That when I jump, I might not land

In the end, we are all the same

We all return back to the sand

And we have find ourselves right back at the start

Back in dumpster land

[It’s really hard to type with tears in your eyes. You can tell Noah had talent & wisdom beyond his years.]

I’ll Use the Two Feet that God Gave Me by NPJ

While many sixteen-year-olds anxiously await the day when they will finally get their driver’s license, I have always felt that having a license limits life. Before my friends or I possessed the convenience of a car, we found adventures around every corner. We would long-board around downtown Boulder during pouring thunderstorms. We would bike around town late into the night, searching for adventures of all sorts. We would walk to Lolita’s Grocery at three in the morning just for a can of Coke and a Charleston Chew. On the way, we would meet some of the most interesting people who have ever walked this earth. The car, on the other hand, has hindered us. My friends no longer experience the oddities found when meandering through town. Now that we have access to cars, every journey has a strict order to it. We leave the house, do what we have to do, and return home. The car has taken the adventure out of our journeys. It has added more apathy to our already apathetic generation. However, in a world of cars, I still walk. In my book, the journey beats the destination any day.

Walking versus driving around town reminds me of taking a road trip versus flying across the country. When the journey takes time, the journeyers learn more about themselves, the people that they meet, and the land in which they travel. If I had driven, rather than walked, most of the places that I have gone throughout Boulder, I would have nowhere near as many stories as I have now. The people I meet walking around town have their own stories that seem so farfetched and miraculous, the greatest fantasy stories in the world would pale in comparison. I have discussed my deepest thoughts with people I have met on the street. I have also discussed the most trivial subjects of all time with these people. When walking, I have no idea what will happen next. Around every corner, another adventure awaits. The spontaneity of walking keeps me on my toes. When walking, I can change direction or motive at any time. The few hours I spend walking every day shape my life more than anything else. Not only does one find the most fantastic adventures while walking, but walking slows down the pace of life. While driving stresses me out and makes me feel rushed, walking calms me. I use walking as a personal meditation time to practice the act of Satori, a Zen practice in which one remains in the present moment, not caring about the past or worrying about the future. When I walk to school every day, I think only about the mountains, the sunrise, and the quiet of the city during the early morning. Not only has walking produced some of my most exciting stories, but it also keeps me in a constant state of peace and in the present moment. Walking greatly influences both my sense of adventure and sense of self.

The car has devastated the potential for our generation more than any other single object. It serves as a metaphor for the rushed and disconnected nature that our generation feels toward this world. Yet walking has sent me down paths no car could ever trek. Walking connects me to the earth and the people who create its foundation. While a car might get me somewhere faster, I would rather take my time walking around and find out where I am really going. When I finally arrive wherever it is that I am headed, I won’t care that I didn’t finish first. I’d rather be able to say that I had one hell of a time on the way there.

[I was one of these 16 year olds that just wanted to drive. But I’ve gotten back to my walking & biking ways. Greeley may not be as nice as Boulder, but there’s definitely interesting things to find on my meandering walks, runs & bicycle adventures. Driving less isn’t just better for the planet, it’s better for your sanity!]

The World I Come From by NPJ

The world I come from might appear as quite small in the scheme of things. However, the town at the edge of the Rocky Mountains that I call home has enough stories that even a piece of writing the size of Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities could not capture every adventure enjoyed by my friends and me. My world has shaped my dreams and aspirations with its spontaneity that waits on every side street in this town.

The town that raised me has brought me up as no other town could. Boulder, Colorado makes me look at the world in a very different manner than if endless suburbs, bustling city, or quiet country had surrounded my childhood. Compared to any of these places, Boulder lands a little in between all three. My friends and I find a new adventure around every turn. On any given day, I could run over to a friend’s house and sit on his porch while discussing anything from the universe to the newest South Park episode, then go downtown, grab a bite to eat, talk to the hobos who call those streets home, head to North Boudler Park, play a game of basketball, and hike the mountains just in time to catch the lights of the city flicker on as the sun sets. I consider myself a hybrid of many places as well. I live life with a wry, East Coast sense of humor and a laid-back West Coast attitude, yet I reside somewhere in the middle of the two. In what other place could I find myself with an Iowa farmer’s son for a father and a Maine fishing village native for a mother? I have met people from all walks of life in this small world of mine. With these people, I have had many adventures in every back alley that runs through and every mountain trail that sprouts out of this town. I have skateboarded while sporting surf shorts and slip-ons in January. I have had to wear my heaviest winter jacket in June. In Boulder, one must be ready for anything.

While Boulder has given me neither fame nor fortune, it has bequeathed upon me a lifetime of stories that I will hold onto forever. I have learned from this town – my world – that our dreams and aspirations are shaped by the spontaneity of everyday life.

[Noah was the spirit of Boulder. I’m not entirely a Boulder girl, but I’m a Houston-Conifer-Boulder-Gaborone-Greeley girl so far and at least part of that spirit is in me, too. Colorado is the heart of this country and Boulder is the strongest part of that heart.]

Noah: Self-Description

(senior year, for college recommendations)

My relaxing activities differ upon the season. In the spring and summer, I love lounging with my friends in a backyard discussing anything and everything. In the fall and winter, I love to go out late at night with no one else and cruise the town with only the crunch of dry leaves or snow beneath my feet. No matter what season, I relax by walking around listening to my music. I also enjoy playing music. I play the guitar and electric bass. I also love hiking up Mount Sanitas and looking out at Boulder below. I love the fact that from that persepective, you notice how we live on the edge between civilization and vast wilderness. Bowling is always good too.

My friends and family would describe me as very loud and outgoing. They would say I love a good adventure and dislike rigid authority and that I love spontaneity. I think they would mention how I can get into trouble with my dry sense of humor and that I go with the flow. They would probably describe me as laid back, taking it easy, care free, and fun loving. I think those closer to me would also describe me as kind of quiet once in a while. Finally, they would probably describe me as a good story teller who loves to make people laugh.

[How could you not love this guy? It’s inevitable. He still makes me laugh and smile, even when missing him hurts so much.]

Not the Walrus by NPJ (1-5-2004)

A cold flake of stardust

Catches in your hair

Laying in the dumpster

Underneath the stair

Cardboard blankets

Keep you warm

Or at least partially

From the winter storm

Spare change for food

Is what you ask

Maybe to eat

Or to fill your flask

Sometimes you smile

Sometimes you frown

You might be grateful

Or wishing you’d drown

You come in all shapes and sizes

And colors too

You might be missing

A sock or a shoe

You might be nice

you might be mean

Your nickname might be

Ol’ Jellybean

You might start a business

You might get a job

Just hope that it’s not

With the Scottish Mob

People see you every day

Maybe you live in the city by the bay

I’ve seen you in New York

I’ve see you in Boulder

Where the weather is warm

And where it’s colder

You are the Hobo

Coo-coo-ka-choo

1-5-2004

[He wrote this one when he was 13 years old. If only more people reached this level of caring and thoughtfulness at any point in their lives, much less before they’re even in high school.]

… And all of this was written when he was 18 or younger. It’s been nearly four years since Noah left us, but he’s still on my mind and in my heart every day. We should all try to live like Noah did: Forget apathy and negativity. Every day should be filled with love, laughter and meaning.

“Life’s too short so love the one ya got…”

One love.

– E

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2 thoughts on “Noah J: Inspiration from a short life

  1. just found this and loved reading it. I’m glad Noah is still providing you with inspiration; his shining spirit lives on and on. Deb (Noah’s Mom). p.s. I’ve never seen the What I Got video before tonight

  2. Here’s what all I got done today:1. Walked someone thgruoh setting up virtualbox on their mac over skype2. Evaluated software for our startups virtual office’3. Worked on clients website and fixed a bunch of small annoying minor issues4. Published new massive 2000+ word blog post. Had Ramit Sethi (new york times best selling author) book mark it.5. Restarted ebook writing by deleting everything because I wasn’t happy with how how well the different parts connected. Found more sources to tie everything together, worked on outline, and found more topics to research.All in all, I’d say it was a more productive day than if I didn’t have to type up what all I did. I think I could have been even more productive. I’ll be back tomorrow with another update!

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