S: - DUSTIN MATTHEWS -
BC: never forget
1: The Tiger TIGER, tiger, burning bright In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry? In what distant deeps or skies Burnt the fire of thine eyes? On what wings dare he aspire? What the hand dare seize the fire? And what shoulder and what art Could twist the sinews of thy heart? And when thy heart began to beat, What dread hand and what dread feet? What the hammer? what the chain? In what furnace was thy brain? What the anvil? What dread grasp Dare its deadly terrors clasp? When the stars threw down their spears, And water'd heaven with their tears, Did He smile His work to see? Did He who made the lamb make thee? Tiger, tiger, burning bright In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Dare frame thy fearful symmetry William Blake. 1757–1827
2: Color Blind I read "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint Exupery when I was 16. There is a line in that book that says, "What is essential is invisible to the eye". I had decided then to learn to look at people on the inside, to not hang descriptions on people based on outside things - so when raising Dustin (and in my life in general) I always tried to put this into practice. The result was a color blind child. He came home from school in about the 3rd grade and told Audie and I about a movie he had seen in school (the entire plot, of course). It sounded real good and videos were a novelty back then so we rented it. The title was "Sounder". Watching that movie for the first time was one of the very happiest and proudest moments of my life and my heart just soared like an eagle. The family in "Sounder" was a black family and when Dustin told me the (whole) story he had never mentioned the color of the family's skin - not once. This story is the pinnacle of my life. Janis
3: Dear Dustin my Son, It has been nearly four years since you transitioned from the incarnation of you that was here with us to the next incarnation for you. I still miss you within every part of me. This past year my emotional acceptance of your death finally caught up with my intellectual acceptance that occurred from the moment I knew you were gone. I was going about my usual morning routine. I was at the bathroom sink when I saw and felt a mist that came from out of my chest. I wasn't sure I had seen it. The mist dissipated like smoke and I felt the physical and emotional emptiness created there and I began to cry. It was very similar to an experience I had out here one day several years ago. I was in the back yard and I thought I saw a large bird flying silently along the edge of the woods. I saw it out of the corner of my eye. I wasn't completely sure I had seen it. It was probably an owl. They fly nearly silently, giving them the advantage over their prey. I saw it during the day and owls are nocturnal. This added another element of doubt. In spite of these things, I was positive I had seen the bird. People who have had a loved one die of suicide have been telling me for the last four years about the physical emptiness they feel at some point in their grief journey. I accepted their word about this. Now I know the meaning of this physical emptiness that will be with me at least until I die. While there is some amount of sadness that goes with this emptiness, I have completed another positive milestone in my journey. I feel more whole again now that my intellect and psyche are more in synch. I am more at peace with and have more acceptance of your death. I am more able to be thankful for the twenty-five years that you shared your life with me. I can think more of the joy that you are to me. Janis and I were going through some of your things that we still have here a couple of weeks ago. We were going through another round of deciding which things to keep and which things to let go. I keep the things that speak to me of the essence of your being. For example, the goofy looking sun sticker that was on something of yours spoke to me (you know the sticker I am referring to) So I peeled it off and will keep it. I smile every time I see it and will pick an appropriate place to display it soon. The scary looking (Oriental or Indian deity?) mask that you had also spoke to me in a somewhat serious way. I also have the cigar that was stuck in its mouth that reminded me of your sense of humor. The mask will be displayed with the cigar. There were times while I was going through your things with Janis when I wanted to stop and go somewhere alone and cry. I have finally realized that some things will never be any easier. Putting them off only gives my sadness more power over me. So I continued. As I said, we keep the things that remind us of your essence and share the other ones with others by donating them to Goodwill. I am sure that the people that will have them will feel your positive spirit. I also know that you would want us to share these things with others. Your spirit of generosity is inspiring to me. I apologize to you for all of the times I was not fully present when you were with me. My ego, ego, ego...I often put it between us and before you. I am truly sorry. Thank you for forgiving me so easily for those times. I never told you that I was amazed, awed and sometimes a little intimidated by your being. I knew from the moment I met you that I was in the presence of someone truly special in this world. Your generosity, kindness, ability to forgive and sense of humor are qualities that I appreciate more and more. I know that being a part of your and Janis' life was one of the true positive examples of the turning of the Karmic wheel for me. I never told you of all of the things that I learned and that I am still learning from you. This is a gift that I deeply appreciate. I now know that I am here to learn and to use what I learn to help others - you have helped me to finally figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Janis and I will light a candle next week in remembrance of your spirit of light. Please feel free to join us. You always were and still are a wonderful son and being to me. Thank you for sharing your life with me. Thank you for your friends. We have become close with some of them personally and electronically. Their presence in my life has helped me to have renewed faith in the future. I lost most of this faith when you left us. Their lives have given me a sense of continuity. They have been such a comfort to me. I am closing with two things that make me think of you whenever they cross my mind. The first one is humorous and you will know where it came from. The second one is a naval farewell and greeting. When I heard this I knew it was something I wanted to share with you. Remember where your towel is. Fair winds and following seas. With love and thanks from within every particle of my being, Audie.
5: March Wind The day of the terrifying phone message brought it's icy March freeze to my heart, again. Then, the day of the long wait lasted forever, again. Now, today, the day of the terrible bad news, topping the trio of pain and sorrow, is here, and I need to rest... this only physical side, the emotional side. Not the side who knows of his glorious smell in the wind, his eyes that pierced the universe and let you see. His sunshine, golden, warmth that wrapped around my heart and always cracked my spine. jdm
7: Songs that remind us of you... Drunken Angel by Lucinda Williams Followers would cling to you Hang around just to meet you Some threw roses at your feet And watch you pass out on the street Drunken angel Feed you and pay off all your debts Kiss your brow taste your sweat Write about your soul your guts Criticize you and wish you luck Drunken angel Drunken angel You're on the other side Drunken angel You're on the other side Lake Charles by Lucinda Williams Did an angel whisper in your ear And hold you close and take away your fear In those long last moments | Imogen Heap - Hide and Seek where are we? what the hell is going on? the dust has only just begun to form crop circles in the carpet sinking feeling spin me round again and rub my eyes, this can't be happening when busy streets a mess with people would stop to hold their heads heavy hide and seek trains and sewing machines all those years they were here first oily marks appear on walls where pleasure moments hung before the takeover, the sweeping insensitivity of this still life hide and seek trains and sewing machines (oh, you won't catch me around here) blood and tears (hearts) they were here first Mmmm whatcha say, Mmm that you only meant well? well of course you did Mmmm whatcha say, Mmmm that it's all for the best? of course it is Mmmm whatcha say? Mmmm that it's just what we need you decided this oooh whatcha say? Mmmm what did'cha say? | Bob Marley - Sun is Shining Sun is shining, the weather is sweet, yeah Make you wanna move your dancing feet now To the rescue, here I am Want you to know, y'all, can you understand? When the mornin' gather the rainbow, yeah, yeah Want you to know, I'm a rainbow too now To the rescue, here I am Want you to know, y'all, can you, can you, can you understand? Sun is shining, the weather is sweet now Make you wanna move your dancing feet, yeah But to the rescue, here I am Want you to know just if you can, here I stand, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no Can you understand me now, baby? Do you believe me? | Pink Floyd Shine on You Crazy Diamond Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun. Shine on you crazy diamond. Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky. Shine on you crazy diamond. You were caught on the crossfire of childhood and stardom, blown on the steel breeze. Come on you target for faraway laughter, come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine! You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon. Shine on you crazy diamond. Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light. Shine on you crazy diamond. Well you wore out your welcome with random precision, rode on the steel breeze. Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!
8: From Max Gimbel (above) AKA Commander Squirrel I don’t remember when I first met Dustin. In my mind’s eye, beginning to hike the Appalachian Trail and becoming close to him were simultaneous occurrences. As it were, it appears that both the start and end of our friendship in the material world is somewhat undefined, so I’ve felt the need to flesh out the parts in the middle that I do know well and that impact me even nearly a decade after the fact. Most all the thru-hikers on the AT had trail names to represent something that they were, were not, wanted to be, or were busy avoiding becoming. Through the trail names, many hikers were able to redefine themselves for a stretch of time and trail. Because of these living pseudonyms, there was an element of fiction to nearly everyone I encountered along the 2,175 mile corridor. Greenleaf, Specter, Jetson, Thru-camper; I didn’t really know who they were. Even now, I can’t recall their given names. There are many others whose trail names I remember, but have faded off to a more real friendship. Accident- Waiting- To-Happen is Gina, a new and proud mom, Slap Happy is Felicity Smith, now Felicity Billings, happily married and about to start a family. Dustin is among the later group, those that have turned to genuine friendship, and to be honest, I never felt comfortable calling him Comet Kid even though it was representative for all of the reasons it was given. As I recall, Dustin became Comet Kid because of his speed and grace while hiking. I also always associated the name with an out-of-this-worldness that represents comets’ rare frequency of appearing only once in a lifetime, every, say, 157 or 439 years. Perhaps the name was prophetic; perhaps it was given to him long ago for reasons we never could have understood. But now, the symbolism of the comet, that burns so bright for such a short period of time, isn’t lost on anyone. Even though I might understand why he was Comet Kid, he was one of the few thru- hikers that always made more sense to me by his given name. I didn’t want the fiction, nor did he want to sell it like the rest of the hikers. One of Dustin’s amazing abilities was to hitch-hike. While this may seem neither like an ability nor like something necessary while hiking, its not the case. To get from trail to town was vital while hiking the AT. On the trail was the first bloom of South Carolina’s Trillium, the oboe tenor of the loon, the dirt that was granted access to every pore and piece of equipment, and one’s own stink that followed you around like a gadfly. With all of its beauty it didn’t have a shower, a post office, Cheetos, a real bed. So to get to town, one needed to hitch-hike. The problem with hitch- hiking is the x-factor of not knowing when you’ll get picked up. At least while hiking, depending on pace, you’ll go 2, 3 or even 4 miles an hour. But hitch-hiking could take all day. And if you are still there by nightfall, forget about that all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet and those 100 count motel sheets, cause no one will pick you up by moonlight. Unless that is, you happen to be Dustin Matthews.
10: As he explained it to me, Dustin would project love directly towards oncoming traffic the way a state trooper would point a radar gun. He would open his chest and heart and actually transmit positive energy. This was the first I had heard of the concept, and had it come from anyone else, I would have taken it as fiction, as I took so many other things I picked up on the trail. There is no better proof of the power of love than trying to get picked-up hitch-hiking as a stench-emitting hiker with long hair and a beard, and doing so. Most importantly, and this is why it never worked for me, Dustin did not project love in order to get picked up, he projected love in a more pure, unattached state. People would trust Dustin at 63 miles per hour. They would trust their lives, families and vehicles to this young man. I’d seen a few night falls during my hitch-hiking days, but never when I was with Dustin. I remember a time just south of the Shenandoah’s in Virginia, south of Rusty’s Hard Time Hollow, Dustin and I got split up. On the night of summer solstice, the longest night of the year, I decided to hike through the dark to catch up and find him. The following noon I caught up with Dustin, we were just a few miles south of Rusty’s Hard Time Hollow at this point, and there was a group of about 15 of us who were itching to get there for the bar-b-que and beer that night. We all took a short cut to the hiker haven, called blue-blazing as the trailed followed the blue blazes painted on trees that indicates a spur trail off the purity of the white blazes that demarcate the AT. When we all finally arrived at the Hollow, the bar-b-que was lit up, and burgers were starting to grill. While I had been a vegetarian before the trail, I had a six month hiatus from refraining from meat consumption while hiking, and both the charred meat and cold beer were like sirens to walk- weary hikers. As hikers were starting to settle into Hollow... picking out bunks, forming an order for the shower... Dustin and I were unsettled with our decision to take the quicker and easier route from the AT to the Hollow. It might have been pride, or purity, or rebellion, but we hiked the four or so miles back to the AT along the blue-blazed trail, picked up where we had left off and continued along the white blazes of the AT until we arrived in late afternoon; the good bunks taken, the air too cold for showering. Our bond consisted of not accepting the path of least resistance. I wouldn’t have gone back without him. He might have gone back without me. We’ll never know. Besides teaching me about projecting love, that love moves in waves like particles of light or particles of energy, Dustin taught me about non-attachment. I had never heard of the four noble truths before I met Dustin. Dustin and I tried out the Buddhist philosophy one day while hiking along somewhere in northern Virginia, I believe. We were practicing non-attachment in a form of walking mediation. We were in the world, but not of it, or so we thought and hoped. To prove just how far we were non-attachment, the trail brought us to a campsite, just before nightfall, where two beautiful women, mostly undressed, were doing their laundry. When we arrived and saw the two ladies, Dustin and I just smiled, and laughed at ourselves, recognizing just how far we really were from non- attachment and absence of desire. It was a lesson I carry with me always. But the strongest lesson that I carry with me from Dustin and the one that defines all other memories of him within my hierarchy of Dustin memories is that of the Yellow Mountain Barn. This is the memory that immediately became legend in my mind. On hard days, it gives me the strength to keep going, and on harder days it gives me the strength to keep living. The Yellow Mountain Barn (Overmountain Shelter - http://www.tehcc.org/images/ yellbrn2.jpg) is an abandoned farmhouse just off a spur trail along the AT, in North Carolina. It’s known for its ample floor space and wide-open starry views.
11: There was a large group of us that arrived that night, maybe 15 or 20, there was beer and maybe even some musical instruments. The first order of business was getting a fire set up, and thus we needed to find firewood. As you could image, we weren’t the first large group to pass through the Yellow Mountain Barn and we certainly weren’t the first group to want to have a bon fire. So the scraps of burnable wood nearby were pretty slim. We went out in waves and in pairs to find wood, the key to the evening events. One, two, three, four, and so on groups went off in search of wood. They came back with a few sticks, twigs really, enough wood to burn while the stars rotated just a degrees, but certainly not enough to keep us warm and happy for the night. All the pairs had returned, and we were all a bit despondent with the lack of firewood. And then Dustin appeared with long tree limbs askew across his body, like a lean cat with giant whiskers. | At that moment, I had an instant realization of what perseverance was. While the rest of us came back with firewood for a few minutes, Dustin returned, alone, with firewood for half the night. As if it weren’t impressive enough (so impressive to me that I took a photo which I later developed in my darkroom in Philadelphia), Dustin, placed the wood down by the pile with the rest of the timber: humble, quiet, without ego. To go the extra mile, and to do it with humility is the lesson that Dustin taught me at the Yellow Mountain Barn. I’m not always (or even often) able to emulate the lesson, but it really does keep me going. I keep this photo with me always. When I move, it’s the last to be packed up, and the first to be displayed. After the Yellow Mountain Barn, Dustin and I were split up for some time. It wasn’t until the last week or two of our AT hikes that we saw each other again, somewhere in central Maine. I remember being so glad to see Dustin and felt fitting, that even though we passed hundreds of miles separately, that we started and finished the trail together. Inspired to see Dustin again, and faced with the new challenge of crossing the Kennebec River in central Maine (http://www.fred.net/kathy/at/kennebec.html), thatwas dam controlled. The fact that it was dam controlled means that the dam could let loose at any moment with a surge of water, raising the water level by a few feet and increasing the flow enough to sweep a hiker downstream in a was dam controlled. The fact that it was dam controlled means that the dam could let loose at any moment with a surge of water, raising the water level by a few feet and increasing the flow enough to sweep a hiker downstream in a deadly way. The dams more often operate after noon, so the morning is a better time to cross unaided, but still, most hikers opt to take a small ferry across, or at least pay the ferryman to take his or her backpack across. Well, Dustin and I one early frosty Maine morning in October, decided, quite foolishly in hindsight, to cross the river, with packs, without the ferry. It was a slow, cold, slippery ford. I remember losing my footing many times and losing sensation in parts of my body. We made it though, and when I am asked today what the most difficult thing I have done was, crossing the Kennebec is right up on top of the list. That crossing reminds me of all the positive aspects of the T.S. Elliot quote, "Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go." Just over a week after the river crossing, Dustin and I finished up the trail together, exactly six months after leaving from Springer Mountain in Georgia. Knowing that gives me hope that even though Dustin and I might not be at the same place along life’s trail at any moment, that in the end, we will find each other again. With much love, respect and admiration, Max Gimbel AKA Commander Squirrel
12: From Gina "Accident Waiting To Happen" Varrichio I started this letter months ago when Aurora told me of Dustin’s passing. For whatever reason, my desire to write to you was quite strong, and all of my journaling on the subject of Dustin was addressed to you. Maybe it is some ethereal connection between mothers or maybe a distressed friend’s whim, but I am glad to finally be sending this to you. Nicole has been encouraging me to write to you all, but it wasn’t until reading Max’s letter that I was able to accept that I didn’t have to have anything amazing or profound to be able to share my thoughts about the great loss of your son. Much of the text to follow is unedited, so I apologize for my repeated rambling. I am crafting this in part based on Max’s model, as the number of Dustin memories I have are too great to share here without being overwhelming. I have picked a few Appalachian Trail snippets and inserted all the photos I have of Dustin from that time period. It is a little disjointed, but I am more concerned with the act of sending it than with its editing at the present moment. Let me start by saying that Dustin’s death is a loss I feel deeply. The ache in my knee reminds me of the callous finger tips that worked each muscle around the injury, releasing the tension of too many hikes and too long a fall. The heat in the pit of my stomach reminds me of meditations, enclosed in rooms and tents and cars or out in open air, me describing each feeling as it came to pass and Dustin, with a smile – always with a smile – nodding and saying “that’s good” and “ah... that’s the....INSERT Chinese word here.”My child reminds me of children he’ll never meet, babies he’ll never have. The uncontainable excitement on the other end of the line when I told him I was pregnant and the “Tibetan Art of Parenting” that showed up in my mailbox a week later. We met in Addis Gap. Gordo and his friends were out on their annual quest to “feed the thru hikers.” They’d saved me from an ugly case of hypothermia and I was settling in for what looked like a long weekend. I watched hikers pass in and out in the pouring rain, stuffing themselves and looking around at the guitars and giant Coleman tents. Dustin pulled in late afternoon. He had decided to camp there, I think, especially with the promise of a hot dinner that didn't come out of a bag. We hit it off immediately. We were both in the earliest days of our spiritual searches. It was like a show-and-tell. Dustin turned me on to Tai Chi, I made him reconsider the bounds of love, he pressured me to stop smoking, I pressured him to start. On the final day, we said our farewells to Gordo and his company and set off together. INSERT: I randomly found some photos of Dustin and I during this time on a hiker’s webpage. Check out http:// at.waldo.net/journal/422.htm for us the day we met and http://at.waldo.net/journal/ 427.htm for a later lunchtime frolic.** We crossed the GA-NC border together and both did a little dance in Dustin’s homeland. The next day, Dustin and some other hikers we had met the day before planned to take a “blue blaze” out to a public campground where some folks were going to pick them up and take them to Boone for a party. Dustin had convinced me to go with them, but in the morning, when the rest of the crew was ready to head out, I decided to sleep in (generally a hiker no-no) and told them I’d meet them on the other end. By the time I made it down to the campground, they were gone. I didn’t see Dustin again until Trail Days.
13: A later rendezvous I remember was in Hanover, NH. I had just finished a weekend hike with my dad and was getting him squared away to get back to his car when, sure enough, here comes the Comet Kid. We stayed in a fraternity house in Dartmouth together and hiked out with friends the following day. Most of that afternoon we spent talking about massage. Dustin played me songs on his wooden flute. I sang. We hiked together the following day and then, as trail time often is, I don’t know how many days We hiked together the following day and then, as trail time often is, I don’t know how many days passed. Again, Dustin wanted to pull ahead and I stayed back with our other hiking companions since Hanover, NH. We planned to meet at the infamous Atwell Hilton – an abandoned house not far off the trail that had been adopted as a thru hiker hangout. As we slid from steep embankment to steeper embankment and the sky started to dim, it became obvious that we were not going to make it to the Atwell Hilton that night. Instead, we pulled into a hay-filled red barn and pitched our tents on the mounds of hay. After finishing dinner, we had all slipped into our sleeping bags. It was pitch black in the barn and I was just thinking about sleep when the headlights of an old pickup truck shone through the screen of my tent. The truck had pulled up just inside the mouth of the barn and the headlights were blinding in the blackness. Two figures climbed out and a deep male voice said huskily, “Comet’s been looking for ya’.” I laughed, still not sure what on earth was going on, but immediately climbed out of my bag and began to pack my things. As I packed, the people identified themselves as Dizzy Bee – the caretaker of the Atwell Hilton (read: provider of beer and hotdogs) and her sidekick. They explained that Dustin had pulled into the Atwell Hilton hours ago and had been anxiously waiting for the rest of us. When it became obvious we were not coming, Dizzy Bee and friend felt compelled to fetch us so that Dustin would not be drinking alone. Guessing well the appeal of a cushy old barn to sleepy thru hikers, it didn’t take them long to find us. Though half the group chose to stay in the barn, 3 of us climbed into the back end of Dizzy Bee’s chariot and were whisked away to the Atwell Hilton and the Comet Kid. We all spent the night drinking cheap beer and smoking cigarettes. In the wee hours of the morning, we all rolled out our bags single-file on the second story and, crossing our fingers that the floorboards didn’t give way slept off our food and drink. The next day, after a miniscual amount of hiking, Dizzy Bee took us all into town to collect our mail drops and some groceries for a trail feast that evening. We hiked the mile out to the shelter from a road-crossing and feasted on roasted corn, canned beans, and other campfire delicacies. Dustin sampled his new bivvy sack (a sort of nylon bag that you slip your sleeping bag into with a raised area over your face, often used by climbers) and modeled the pair of Speedos mom had been nice enough to send with his food supplies. Another hiker free-for-all lasted well into the night and we all slept restlessly, excited about our entrance into the White Mountains the following morning.
14: When we all woke the next day, not far behind the sun, Dustin was gone. There was much speculation as to what might have happened to him, but by this point, I was used to impromptu departures by Dustin. Farewells were to be inferred and I felt certain there would be a tale to follow the next time we crossed paths, if you will. (As an addendum, the tale to follow was quintessentially Dustin. He had decided that he wanted to see the sunrise on Mt. M the summit.) I have an endless supply of Dustin trail- tales, many of which were lost to me until these past few months. Just as we hopscotched in and out of one another’s AT experience, so too did we spend the next 10 yrs bounding in and out of each other’s day-to- days. We have met in hotel rooms in strange cities, front porches in more familiar ones, bunkhouses, campsites, and wherever or whenever the fates conspired. I steal from Dustin’s friend Nicole when I say that to know Dustin was like meeting someone with whom you could meet god. And I know that it was definitely Dustin who made my first introduction. As a hiker, Dustin has always outpaced me. And as a seeker of the true nature of reality, he has done the same. For many years we have followed divergent paths, both physical and spiritual. My dearest friend, it is my deepest wish that when my own time begins to wane, our trails will again converge. With the When we all woke the next day, not far behind the sun, Dustin was gone. There was much speculation as to what might have happened to him, but by this point, I was used to impromptu departures by Dustin. Farewells were to be inferred and I felt certain there would be a tale to follow the next time we crossed paths, if you will. (As an addendum, the tale to follow was quintessentially Dustin. He had decided that he wanted to see the sunrise on Mt. M the summit.) I have an endless supply of Dustin trail- tales, many of which were lost to me until these past few months. Just as we hopscotched in and out of one another’s AT experience, so too did we spend the next 10 yrs bounding in and out of each other’s day-to- days. We have met in hotel rooms in strange cities, front porches in more familiar ones, bunkhouses, campsites, and wherever or whenever the fates conspired. I steal from Dustin’s friend Nicole when I say that to know Dustin was like meeting someone with whom you could meet god. And I know that it was definitely Dustin who made my first introduction. As a hiker, Dustin has always outpaced me. And as a seeker of the true nature of reality, he has done the same. For many years we have followed divergent paths, both physical and spiritual. My dearest friend, it is my deepest wish that when my own time begins to wane, our trails will again converge. With the deepest compassion and wish for your renewed harmony....Gina
15: FROM JILL MATTHEWS The very first time I met Dustin he was somewhere around 6 or 7 years old. He was absolutely the cutest little fellow I had ever seen. What a smile! We were in Ft. Walton, Florida. My brother and sister-in-law (Audie & Janis) met me there as it was a good half way point. I was trying to hold a conversation with them but, I couldn't take my eyes off this little guy, BREAK DANCING on the motel sign. He was almost on his head, then on his back and spinning all around on his back with his feet in the air! Quite a showman! The next time I saw him he was 13 or 14. I had left at 7:00pm out of Huntsville and pulled in to Raleigh about 5:00a.m. When I arrived at the house, he was shooting some hoops and the first thing Dustin told me was, "I heard you wanted a water bed, you can sleep in mine tonight to see if you like it." Such a sweetheart. I missed a lot of his growing years but, the few times we were face to face I could FEEL his love. I will always remember him with a heart full of love and happiness and I will NEVER forget that smile!
19: FROM MELISSA DUGAN Once in Raleigh, I saw a fire pouring out of the windows of a house. I ran to see what, if anything I could do. In the distance came these blond dreadlocks bouncing towards me. It was Dustin. We met and ran to the nearest firehouse where the firemen were sitting around watching TV in their underwear. We told them about the fire then Dustin and I ran in the middle of the street leading the firetruck to the house. That was how we became brother and sister. I went online the other day to look him up....I always hoped I would find him and get him up here in Brooklyn with me! I always needed him. So, when I first saw his name online I got so excited...I didn't even read the page. I instantly emailed him my info. Then I read and now know he is no longer here with us. Dustin always said that this planet was so claustrophobic and that his physical body was too small for him. Once sitting indian style on top of a hill in Pullen Park, our backs to each other and arms interlocked, he taught me to feel what energy was and how much I had inside of me waiting to be used. He then stood up and tried his damnedest to flip his body inside out so could roll down a hill and up another like a pinball! I think I peed my pants laughing and watching him try so hard to accomplish this all night. I think about him dancing with him for countless hours, even when there was no music. Tonight I dug out all the mix tapes and postcards he ever sent me when we were apart. All the incense has been burned my sweet brother, cosmic traveler. I love you...and like you taught me I'll always be "dancing towards the source." I can feel your warmth now. | April 18, 2007 I've been missing you A LOT lately. Your are not just in my thoughts, you occupy many of my days. I can feel you these times when you are next to me and when I spontaneously break out into laughter it's because I know you are whispering to me. Probably some DUSTINIZM that used to make me crazy and make me chase you around until we ended up across the street at the park, out of breath laid out on top of hill cracking up. I LOVE YOU BROTHER. I Miss You. | "When you do dance, I wish you A wave o' th' sea, that you might ever do Nothing but that."
20: From Dorsey M. Leake Your toothpick jumping Juggle sticks flipping Your body flowing & often pop locking Your bottle to wall sticking Best ramen noodle cooking Your hands healing & Chi always glowing Our mind balloon popping & Lessons on hand walking You never ceased to amaze us & we miss you so- Thank you for always showing me the brighter side of life & Thank you for all of the magical, dance filled nights I can feel you now in the melodic beat of a rain shower & In the colorful rays of the sun's awesome power As you dance through the universe's remix of life We will connect with you through music, love & light When we raise our hands to the boundless limits above We know you will feel our limitless love
21: The thought of one year already passing is unreal to me. It seems like yesterday that we got that horrific phone call. However, I find solace in knowing and trusting in my heart that Dustin moves freely between time and space now, just as he had always dreamed of. I hope he's dancing on comets and loving every second of his new journey. We miss you more than you'll ever know...nah, you know. | I can't believe it's been 3 years- it's unreal- I haven't seen you in my dreams in a while :( James and I went to Umstead yesterday and we couldn't help but think of you. Brian or you would always lead us off the beaten path! When we'd get lost I knew you would somehow get us back to the car before sundown! I miss our adventures- We miss you so much! | “Life is a balance between transformation & resistance to transformation. Think of yourself as a dancer on the blurry edge of separating order from chaos.” ~Unknown
22: From Nicole Haut | if i could see you just one more time, i wouldn't have words to speak. i know i wouldn't have to. did you ever really understand how much you are Loved? | he was, to me pure bliss metaphysical trickster not a god, but a demi god an irrational passion my cosmic twin
25: Yesterday I stumbled across the MySpace page of Dustin Matthews, with whom I hiked more than a few miles on the Appalachian Trail in 1996 (trail name “Comet Kid”), and was surprised to read that he died a couple of years ago. He was only a few years older than me. From what I can piece together, he committed suicide. Comet Kid had an unusual mixture of a mischievous zest for life and a Buddhist calm about him. He was unpredictable, but in a good way — his spontaneity made people want to go along with him for the adventure. We first met on my third day on the trail, at the Walasi-Yi Inn in Georgia, and hiked more or less together for a few weeks. We met up again in October, just south of Maine’s Baxter State Park. We summited Mt. Katahdin on the same day, October 20th, though he characteristically started shortly after midnight in order to reach the peak at dawn — making him the first person in the country to see the sun rise — planning to take the Knife Edge down the north face of the mountain. The night of October 19 was the last time that I saw him. I’ve often wondered since what became of him, but never tracked him down. I should have tried harder. | FROM WALDO JAQUITH'S BLOG JUNE 18TH 2008
27: FROM JAMES When I first met Dustin, I knew I had met him before. He definitely made you believe in past lives. We were instantaneously joined at the hip and so began our long journey together. I remember when we heard house music for the first time....Park Elevator, in Charlotte....Kimbell Collins was on the decks and we were hooked! Dustin was my dancing partner, we could tap into something out of this world on the dance floor. Music meant the world to us, and that bond will never be broken....we still connect through it, thank God. I love you.
28: From Sam Pierce | Thanks for the energy this weekend. I knew you were there and I needed that. It was like we were hanging out...like all was norm. Good to have that feeling again. | Man, I have sooo much to talk to you about. Just wish we could chat that chat. I'm due for some grounding and you always helped me the most.
29: It's been ten years since I have seen Dustin. I have missed him every day. But today I found out that he is gone and my heart is broken. The first time I met Dustin, Brian brought him over because he didn't have a place to go. So I let him stay on my floor ( I only had a room in a house). In a short time Dustin and I became friends. All the girls wanted Dustin probably because he was the most beautiful person-inside and out. | From Danielle Broome | ~One day, back when I was living in Raleigh, I was walking home from work and I experienced a burst of pure joy. I don't know what brought it on but I had never experienced anything like it before. Once I got home I was talking to Dustin and trying to explain what I felt. He gave a name to it. Instant Enlightenment. Those bursts come less frequently now but when they do, I immediately think of Dustin. | Nature's first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf's a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down today. Nothing gold can stay. -Robert Frost
30: Captain Dustin, I still think about the crazy journeys we went on. I thank you for teaching me balance. I can't believe it's been a year since the Meat Beat Manifesto show and that you've been gone.
31: You know I do miss you but I'm angry, too. It's hard to believe you didn't reach out to us and turn things around. I know you always wanted to be free, but the way you did it, made so many of us feel trapped, by our love for you. It's been two years now, I finally feel like I can write here to you. I watched you through many stages of life, I still can't figure out how the last one was you. I can only guess it was because I wasn't there to understand where you were. Now when I feel you it's the way I have always remembered you and always will. I miss how we never had to finish our sentences to know what each other was talking about, how you always understood the mind/spirit/body experience's I spoke of. It was so refreshing to have another kindred soul in my life, to those respects. Which makes it even harder for me to understand why you left the way you did. Not that I can't see a part of you in what you did, you had so many sides of you, all with different ages, strengths, weakness, passions, the life of a Gemini (so many twins). You really were amazing in so many ways. Funny how I have two Gemini's now in my little family, Mica reminds me of you, I only wish he could have had more time with you. You would have been one of his favorites to call uncle. Wow, I miss you. You have always been hard to stay mad at. There is so much I could say but, I don't think anyone you knew you could so easily forget you, your energy, words, light, etc. So, today this space is just for me to let go a little more. No matter how little time we spent together as we went off on our own journeys, our friendship and connection never changed. I cherish the connection we had my friend. For 13 years I was blessed to have you in my life. Since James introduced me to you at the Fallout Shelter in your overalls and short dreads. I'll find you again, you are a part of my soul family, unconditionally. | From Julie
33: saw the new pics put up and i just can't stop crying this morning...maybe its cause dorsey and i drove past the old apartment on avent ferry last night..i just miss you..so much. i think i miss your hugs the most & i know you're laughing at me right now and that makes me smile | the most beautiful shooting star came over the amphitheater..trailed all the way across the people slowly and seemed to land on top of the stage right in the middle of the song..and right then i knew you were with us..we all felt your presence..it was amazing..we love you
34: From Harley Maxwell Well as usual things of this magnitude never hit me in REAL TIME. But it hit me today while reading the stories on this page that Dustin is really no longer with us on the physical plane. I am deeply moved by everything that was written about Dustin on the trail. I remember when he undertook that journey and the deep admiration I felt for him. I feel that admiration again today, at this moment for he touched so many lives including my own in such a deep and intricate way. I absolutely have such deep regard for the impression he left behind. Thank you Dustin.
35: From Jason Johns | I knew Dustin not as "comet kid" but as "dustin the wind." This was my nick name for him via a little wordplay from the old song by the group Kansas. I called him this because of his free spirited nature...and like the wind he could conform to any shape. This was displayed by his obvious knack for flexibility. Like the wind he could display some awesome power or be as gentle as a breeze on your cheek. For those who knew Dustin you know his ability to float past barriers and limitations with ease. Not to mention all the wind he created on the dance floor. Dustin was a kind-hearted intuitive healer that represented freedom of the mind and the powers hidden within ourselves. If you were unaware of this limitless power of selfless love...then you probably didn't really know Dustin. His life was dedicated to promote this selfless love and his passion for unlocking others hidden potential made him a great man to me! I just wish he were here because he was one of the few people, other than some wise old sage in China, that you could have insight taught on these subjects. For me the definition of the philosophy best describes Dustin. I know one word cannot describe him but it does give insight on this complex being we all loved...we miss you Dustin. philosophy n. pl. philosophies love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means and moral self-discipline. Investigation of the nature, causes, or principles of reality, knowledge, or values, based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods. A system of thought based on or involving such inquiry the critical analyses of fundamental assumptions or beliefs. The discipline comprising logic, ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, and epistemology. Set of ideas or beliefs relating to a particular field or activity; an underlying theory.
36: Dustin taught me to listen to my body - to live in my body. He'd say, "Stretch while you're cooking - don't follow anyone else's rules, follow what your own body tells you." He'd say, "Look at just one star - stare at it until you can make it move." He'd say, "Find your center." "Don't let fear run your life." Oh that last one, maybe that was me.. -Dustin's Mom
39: "The word 'samadhi' has been largely misunderstood. People think it means a death-like situation. The work literally means 'sama' and 'dhi'. "Sama' means equanimity and 'dhi' denotes 'buddhi'. If you reach that kind of equanamous state of intellect, it is known as 'samadhi'. What it means by equanamous state of intellect is this: only when the intellect is functioning, you are able to discriminate between one thing and the other. The discrimination that this is this and this is that is there only because the intellect is functioning. The moment you drop the intellect or transcend the intellect, this discrimination does not exist. Now everything becomes one whole, which is a reality. Everything just becomes one whole. In this state, there is not time and space. You may think the man had been in samadhi for three days. For him, it was just a few moments - it just passes off like that. Lifetimes can pass off like this... If you want to understand these things, you have to pull yourself out of the world. Staying in this world, whichever way you look at it, you cannot understand, because you are bound by time and space. When there is not and space there are no physical quantities. This world, as you understand it today, as you see it today, as you experience it today, is a complete falsehood. It seems to be there, but it is not really there. It just seems to be there, including yourself, just seem to be there. Now the whole struggle is to see that it is just nonsense. The whole thing is just an illusion. What it means by 'maya' is just this. It just seems to be there. Today your physics is proving it beyond any doubt that there is no such thing as matter in existence. Everything is relative. It just seems to be there but not there. But it is so real, isn't it? It seems very real. Who is going to believe this story that it is not there.