beebo’s last ride


      His last wish was for a joy ride, “I think I’m gonna try to do a barrel roll and if that goes good, I’m just gonna nose down and call it a night.” 

The human spirit, if not too badly damaged by the arrows of life is playful, elegant, it delights you.  It’s the teenager’s joy ride with a stranger’s car, the quickie in the utility closet of an office building with a stranger you’ve just met in the elevator, or as Crazy Horse said before the Battle of the Little Big Horn, “Hokahey, today is a good day to die.”  In other words, one belongs to the spirit and whatever comes your way you will receive it with equanimity.  You are doing whatever you have chosen, impeccably.

      Our joy rider in the sky has been identified as 29-year old Richard “Beebo” Russell, a Horizon Air employee described by friends and family as "an avid traveler, a high-school football standout and Christian youth leader who once operated an Oregon bakery with his wife," according to the Seattle Times.  Other details of Richard Russell’s life include that he was very active in church as a youth director, and spent most of his later childhood growing up in Alaska before moving to Oregon with his wife in 2010 where both attended college. Former co-workers have described Russell as “super gregarious, funny, a hard worker.”

      Whatever caused him to take his own life, we will never know.  And whatever it was he did not care to burden us with it.  He didn’t tell us he owed a ton of money and they were going to take his house and car, that he’d received an inoperable cancer diagnosis, that the wife was filing for divorce, or whatever awful curse befell him.  he chose instead to delight us with a bit of chutzpah. 

      There is also in this deed, the concept of a “treat.”  I will perform this luxurious act that will give me pleasure.  Pleasure is not something that organized societies are comfortable with.  It can get out of hand, like taking an $11 million Bombardier Q400 turboprop plane with you on your way out the door.  Most pleasures are defined for us, the movies, a trip to the coast, a great dinner, a red sportscar, a European vacation.  If you notice, you need money for these treats, and for that reason are not that pleasurable.  I live in a well-known tourist community on the coast of Maine with a great harbor, which hosts several three-masted sailing ships and all manner of sea craft.  Does one see tourists picnicking on the expanse of lawn facing the bay?  Never, they walk around in wrinkled linen tops, Bermuda shorts and sandals cruising the gift shops, a tired lot exhausted with their pleasures.  The best treats are free, like the ice cream cone your mom bought you on the way home for no special reason.

Impressive barrel roll, Richard, thank you, and may you rest in peace.