My friend Mark is a free spirit. He has no profile on Facebook, no Twitter and no blog. I’d find it hard to believe if he had an e-mail address nowadays. Mark has an active social life, which he fills with new people constantly. He takes life as it comes, even if that means having to go through difficult situations sometimes. He threads lightly on this earth, usually not owning more than a handful of things. If he has his guitar, a good read and some clothes on his back, he has all he need.

Mark was my witness when my wife and I got married, some thirteen years ago. We met eachother by fate and by fate lost sight of eachother again. Mark and I met when I was 21 years old. I was a single guy, living in a small apartment downtown. He was living in a youth shelter nearby, for one reason or the other. Mark started attending our church and that is how we first met. We got along really well and eventually, we decided to share my flat.

Poetry & music

Mark neatly paid me back half of the rent each month. In fact, he always added an extra hundred bucks and told me: You decide on groceries”. He didn’t mind eating whatever I chose. Food was nothing he cared for too deeply. As long as there was something in the fridge to satisfy the physical hunger, he was alright. Now, you should understand one thing. Mark lives for his art.

He plays the guitar and writes poetry. He could stay up until the wee hours of the morning and write songs about life. He didn’t only write poetry, he read it as well. Sometimes he’d recite a  50 line, historical  poem from the top of his head… and other times his love for poetry lead him to say seemingly stupid things like: “Mark – eyeball. See, that rhymes!”

Brother and sister

My wife was even more fond of Mark than I was. They called eachother ‘brother and sister’, as they felt they were two peas from the same pod. I think they might have contemplated dating (long before I came into the picture) but realized that two people who share the same characteristics are bound to pull eachother down. (Especially, since one of those characteristics was being overly cynical) They settled for ‘brother and sister’ instead, which was even more fueled by the fact that they seemed to have the exact same colour of eyes. A quirky gold/green that I so far haven’t yet seen in anyone else.

When we got married, my wife moved in with me and Mark felt it was time for him to leave. His famous words in those situations are: “The Northern sun calls”, more or less like Juliet Binoche in the movie ‘Chocolat’ gets stirred by the North Wind, which ‘asks her’ to pack her bags and explore new ground.

The ‘Northern Sun’

When Mark leaves, he doesn’t leave an address. In fact, he doesn’t even leave a phone number. “We part by fate and if it wills, we will meet again by fate.” Every now and then, completely out of the blue, he might show up again. Living in a different city, pursuing a different career. The last time we saw him was over a year ago. He had grown a beard, long hair and was reading books by rabbi Chaim Potok. After having spend some years working in a local wine store, he was now a leader in a daycare facility, working with newborns.

He visited us, we had a great time like always and at the end of the day he left, saying: “The Northern sun calls”.

The free spirit lifestyle

I sometimes envy Mark. I mean that in a good way. I’m not jealous of him, instead I admire him. I admire his way of life, even though I know very well it’s not really for me. I admire the fact that he doesn’t care what anybody thinks. He doesn’t care what society defines as ‘normal’. He just does what he does without asking anyone for permission.

I admire that free spirit. Even though we may or may not find it pleasant to leave everything and everyone in the past for numerous times, disappearing with ‘the Northern sun’, there’s a great deal we can learn from people like him.

And lastly: Mark, if you’re reading this… I love you, man! Stop by sometimes.. it’s been too long…