Our lives are ruled by assumptions, which is necessary to get through the day. The sun will rise in the morning and set in the evening – except perhaps in a polar circle but there your assumption would change anyway.

When I was in New York visiting my cousin in December 2000, I made choices based on my assumptions, choosing to visit Strawberry Fields and the Dakota Apartments instead of the World Trade Center, assuming I’d get a chance to visit the latter during a future visit.

Yesterday was a tragic reminder on how we shouldn’t rely too heavily on assumptions. As I was going through my Facebook news feed, a morning routine to check in on the news of the day, a couple of posts stopped me cold. A good friend of a friend was tagged in these posts, with messages like, “You’ll be missed” and “I will never forget you.”

Although I didn’t know him well, we’d hang out when he was in town visiting my friend and he was one of those people that lit up a room and he was so funny and kind. Sometimes months or years would pass until we saw him but when we did, it was like he never left town.

I always assumed that we’d see him again.

After reading through the different posts on his page to try to find out what happened, I saw this one: “Another that has chosen their own timing. I truly hope he finds some sense of peace on the other side.”

As I looked at his smiling Facebook profile photograph, I thought back to some of our past conversations – and remembered only fragments but couldn’t recall any strong indications of an inner struggle. But isn’t that usually the case? Those kind of feelings are easy to hide from those you only see for a few hours every couple of years.

But it is a reminder that we shouldn’t take things for granted, and a reminder that things aren’t always as they appear. Maybe all the smiling holiday photos on Facebook are truly happy or maybe it’s just one smiling snapshot between difficult moments. We don’t know for sure.

Rest in peace, Ben.

How things can change over time

This week there was a thread on a RS fan page where people shared their RS stories – when they became fans, how aware they were of RS in the ’90s and how they got back to this point (on a RS fan page). It’s pretty incredible to learn about the impact he’s had on so many lives.

The passage of time is such a funny thing. In an interview with RS that I heard recently, he mentioned that at this point he’s lived in the U.S. longer than he had lived in Australia so this feels more like home now. But since the 80s when first becoming aware of him, I’ve always thought of him when I hear something about Australia. I guess it’s kind of like when you think back to a certain time in your life and you think of the people as you knew them rather than who they are today  – such as when I see pictures of the preschoolers I used to teach when I was in college and have difficulty grasping the idea that they’ve grown and likely have children of their own.

Although, this is probably different now with Facebook and similar social media when people keep abreast of people’s lives long after they are no longer an active part of them.

Anyway, when I was reading these fans’ stories, I couldn’t help but think of a young Richard Lewis Springthorpe so many years ago who had no idea what his future was and feeling so bleak about what those possibilities might look like. While he was distressed about his relationship – or lack thereof, as he describes it in his memoir – with girls, he probably could not have fathomed the depth of his success or his impact on people’s lives. “Don’t worry that none of your female classmates seem interested in you, Ricky boy, someday women will be making calendars out of your photos and paying a few hundred dollars for the chance to meet you,” a time-traveler might have told him, if one was able to travel back in time.

I’m not alone in my RS crush

As I rediscovered the inner RS crush that has been dormant for so long, I’m realizing I’m not alone. He really has some devoted fans out there. I’ve found several websites devoted to him, some with funny articles and some that shows extensive research (listing every concert in every city that he’s played, every album, every show, etc.)

Here are some I’ve found:

Rick Springfield and Us: Wow, just wow. What a great resource for RS fans! Another great site.

It all started here… Rick Springfield: Although the last blog post is from June 2013 (she said she had to move on because it ended up taking too much of her time), there’s a lot of fun stuff to read here.

On the above blog, there’s a link in the Sept. 8, 2011 entry that links to the writings of a RS fan who wrote hilarious stories about him. Marni O’Doherty was a 31-year-old RS fan who had posted a comment on a Yahoo! Rick Springfield board from her office in the World Trade Center on 9/11 moments before a plane crashed into the building. This story made it into Rick Springfield’s memoir. Reading her stories about meeting him, throwing him a thoughtful gift up on stage only to see it kicked under a keyboard, etc., it was sad to think that such someone who seemed like such a spirited, fun person was the victim of such a tragedy.

Then of course there are the Rick Springfield fan Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and the hundreds of likes or comments every time RS posts anything on FB.

RS fans seem like a good bunch. His birthday is coming up this week (yes, I admit that for the last three decades or so, whenever I hear the date Aug. 23, I think “That’s Rick Springfield’s birthday,” although I don’t usually say it out loud), his fans raise money for charity.

Not bad company to be in.