Chris Muller: 1976-2005
Yesterday I received the news that Chris Muller died flying. Today is a perfect day, sunny, blue, mountains gleaming, but there’s something missing in the fabric of the world for me. The musician Jim White sings about, “Cracks in the Universe;” sometimes they open and people fall through. The end of Chris's life is such a crack for anyone who knew him, but I like to think that Chris split the universe like an ax through dry wood and flew out the far side. Because, if anybody could do it, Chris did. He could see and ride lines in life that were too arcane for the rest of us to comprehend. “Talented” is a short word used to describe someone who can execute his vision outside of the normal envelope; Chris’s envelope is covered in stamps from dimensions way, way out there.
Chris shared himself more with others than any ten “normal” people put together. He gave that energy through teaching, flying, partying, driving, and living life full throttle. Nobody spent more time with his foot firmly on the gas than Chris--literally. He was the only person I know who could drive 20 hours straight and get out of the truck talking about how great the trip was, all the stuff he saw and how psyched he was to be "here." His schedule was impossible, but he was never in a hurry with anyone who needed something from him, even if it was just talking about nothing. He had the talent to be world champion at anything, but choose to focus on sharing his energy with others. How many students did he run off the hill, how many friends did he make laugh, how many times did he take a lateral and make us all think, “Holy SHIT!” I can't help but smile and laugh thinking about him--no tears can wash the joy of memory away.
There’s a temptation when remembering a friend in absence to put the person in a line up between, say, Superman and Jesus. I’d place Chris more between Jimi Hendrix and Gretzky. Chris could play a glider like nobody else, and he got the crowd on its feet every single time his left the ground. And Chris needed no wings to fly--I would have been totally unsurprised if he'd just levitated off the ground one day on pure mental enthusiasm for the idea.
The measure of a great man is not his money or trophies but the echoes of his lessons (formal and informal) that continue to resonate and even build long after the fact. Chris Muller’s life will continue to sound in me and many others every single day.
Today and every day my love goes out to Chris’s Mom, Vincene. I know pilots and friends around the world appreciate her and her son, send love to her.
PS--there's been a request by Chris's mom, Vincene, that there be "No crying!" when dealing with her or remembering Chris. Not because crying would be weak, we've all done a lot of it, but because Chris and her just don't see it that way. Chris's life is full of joy, try to let that fill you.
http://www.circlinghawk.com/chrism.html Good photos of Chris, family, friends.
http://www.mullerwindsports.com/feb05/windsports_hm.htm Cool video of Chris doing his thing.
http://www.karicastle.com/blog/ A good read at anytime but especially good right now with her and other people's thoughts on Chris.
http://events.dowsett.ca/?q=image/tid/27 Mark Dowsett's page of photos of Chris.
http://www.redbullusa.com/article.action?documentIntID=1085615460992-410293403 Chris's Red Bull Bio
http://www.dropzone.com/ Go to "Forums" then Base Zone then Chris Muller. Dave Lundquist wrote a really nice piece there about hanging out with Chris.