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Phil_osopher

I met Philip almost three years ago on our first night in Mombasa. Ilea and I showed up at his eighth story flat in the center of town. He graciously welcomed two strangers into his home that was already overflowing with life (largely in the form of other travelers that also became close friends). He offered his room because, “you guys are married and it has the best view”. That’s how it began.

The plan was to stay for a couple weeks until we found our own flat. Four incredible months past. We lived so much life during that time. We were happy. All of us. Together.

I love those moments when you’ve just met someone but you feel as though they’ve always been a part of your life. And perhaps they have.

We walked the streets of Old Town late at night through dodgy alleyways to sit on the peer with the Muslim youth. We sipped spiced coffee while sharing stories and soaking in the experience of other cultures and perspectives. We ate marahagwe nazi (beans and coconut) packed full of fiery hot green chilies at the local restaurants for $2 a meal. The filth of the streets saturated our sun-beaten clothes. We take in each nuanced experience to the fullest. This is where we feel most alive.

We lean on each other when the times are tough, as they often are here. We braved the Kenyan elections, terrorist threats and frequent grenade attacks. We bonded and clung to each other.

On Sundays, we spent the day at the beach soaking in the rays and eating coconuts and spiced mangos. In the evenings, we sat on my roof, gazing at the stars and arguing about politics, film, philanthropic methodology and the human condition.

Nothing gets Phil down. He always finds beauty, even in the most devastating and hopeless of times. He exudes happiness and joy, no matter how dire the circumstances. He’s an ardent optimist, so much so that it drives me nuts at times. But more often, it inspires me to have a more positive perspective, to have another look.

He’s visited 82 countries, and I’ve no doubt he’s inspired them all. The experiences he’s had along the way are beautiful, intricate threads sewn into the fabric of his life. He carries the lives of others within him. He breathes that life into the room, leaving a profound watermark of happiness on everyone he meets.

Phil’s generosity knows no bounds. He gives and gives and has no expectation or desire for that kindness to be returned. That’s not the point. He’s not naïve. He does it because it’s part of who he is.

Phil represents so much of what I care about in this world. The other day, in an email conversation, he said, “Stay strong. There are perfect societies in our hearts and minds and in the small human moments of goodness. They have just yet to be realized.” That’s a typical Phil thing to say in the middle of a conversation. I love that.

Phil is living, in the truest sense of the concept. He’s “sucking the marrow out of life”, as Thoreau so eloquently posited. He and his equally whimsical and inspirational Spanish partner, Estrella are a force. She glides. Together they’re captivating. They are an experience; one worth having.

Phil is the “why not?” guy in my life. His influence is liberating. I think that’s beautiful. It makes me want to live life more fully. More full of humanity and love; raw and unbridled. He inspires me to experience more and to do things I’d easily find reasons not to do. He challenges me to truly live.

He’s brought so much love, light and happiness into our lives. Not just mine, but Ilea’s and Francois’ as well. And of course, Saoirse got her beautiful name (meaning “freedom” in Gaelic) from Uncle Phil. I know she carries some of his light within her.

The most important thing in our family is relationship. It trumps everything else. Everything. Phil embodies what that means to us. He makes us better people. He has truly become part of “us”; a part that we cherish. I’m grateful for Phil. Grateful for his influence, his friendship, his perspective and his inspiration.

Phil once said, “There aren’t enough Gandhis in the world. We’re gonna need more of them.” I’d have to agree. And if we are striving for more of the beautiful and extraordinary, we’re also gonna need more Phils.

9 Comments

  1. Niall Mc Allister on November 14, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    Proud to call him my brother. Well written Jared. I have thought a lot of this over the years about Phil but don’t have the words you have. The only thing missing from this is that he is the most argumentative person on the planet and that also makes him great. Because in those arguments you often find yourself changing perspective only to realise Phil has now moved to the other side of the discussion. Love him dearly.
    Niall

    • Jared Angaza on November 17, 2013 at 5:19 PM

      Niall, You nailed it! You’re definitely correct. Phil can get into an argument with a street sign.

      I can’t be with him for more than 3 minutes without getting into a heated debate. And I love the fact that he’ll come into it full speed, passionately trying to prove his point…Then 10 minutes later he’s on your side and you’re left reanalysing everything from the beginning, including your own opinion. I think it’s some sort of Jedhi mind trick. Or completely accidental. Hard to tell.

      Either way, Phil is a force. And I’m so glad to have him in my life.

  2. Teri @ MommySabbatical.com on November 14, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    So beautifully written, brings tears to my eyes.
    I’m inspired by your description of Phillip, Jared – to be more like him; to see the best in the world, to always offer the gift of love & encouragement. So glad you all have him in your life. So glad you shared the gift of Phil with us!
    Thanks for that.
    What bright words of revelation to launch my 44th year!

    • Jared Angaza on November 17, 2013 at 5:15 PM

      Thanks Teri! Yes, we’re blessed to have The Phil in our lives. He inspires us daily. I thought it was worth inking our experience with him so others can also be inspired. Happy 44th!!!!

  3. Joanne Miller on November 15, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    It has been our pleasure to meet Phil. I agree. He’s the kind of inspiring friend everyone needs. You are blessed to have one another!

  4. Sutton Parks on November 15, 2013 at 10:01 PM

    Some people say to give things without telling anybody. I disagree. Even though this post isn’t coming from Phil, reading your account of his generous spirit inspires me. I love hearing how people give because, for some reason, it opens my heart. Thank you for sharing this.

  5. Shawn Frey on November 17, 2013 at 6:23 PM

    What an awesome friendship Jared, it makes me remember the people and friends in my life of (46 years) and the things & experiences we have shared together. Your story inspires me want to be better friend and to offer positive challenges and words of encouragement to my family, friends and friends I’ve yet to meet. Thanks so much for sharing.

  6. July Ronder on November 18, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    I am very happy to read that visitors of Mombasa can stroll late at night in streets, mingle with local people and taste some of the cuisine. I would also suggest chapati and perhaps masala tea.

  7. Derek on November 18, 2013 at 10:56 PM

    “Phil is the “why not?” guy in my life.”

    We all need a “why not” guy in our life.

    And if we don’t have one, it’s up to us to be that guy for ourselves. Not always easy.

    -Derek

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