To Friends of Soren (by Dave Gordon)

Reprinted via Dave Gordon from FB. friend, copywriter, man of wisdom.

To Friends of Soren
(This was the speech I gave at Soren Hellner’s memorial. I hope it brings you some comfort in this sad time.)

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I hate spicy food. And whenever Soren and I would go to get Mexican food or Indian food or really any type of food (it could have been McDonalds) he would he ask for it to be spicy.

Say we were at a Thai restaurant, the waiter would laugh when Soren asked for it to be really spicy. Soren would convince the waiter that he used to live in Thailand and that he could handle it.

When it finally came, the smell of it would make my eyes water, but Soren would dive into it.

Then he would try and convince me to have some “Try it, it’s good for you.” He’d say with a mischievous smile.

It’s good for me? How exactly would searing my stomach lining be good for me? Maybe you’re suggesting that these toxins that you drench your noodles in will somehow condition my body better to fight off infections?

But, looking back, I don’t think that’s what he meant. I really think he was teaching me about trying something new and different and to welcome the unknown.

This is how Soren lived his life and it is one of the many lessons he taught me over the two years I was blessed to call him a friend. But it wasn’t the most important. You’ll have to wait for that.

Another lesson he taught me was to be passionate about the things he loved. Among other things, he was so very passionate about FCKopenhagen, his football team (soccer to us silly Americans). He even would carry around 2 computers on the days when they had games just so he could watch it while working. And when they won, he would smile for hours, so happy for his beloved FCK.

But, conversely, he also taught me how to take life a little less seriously. When I was stressed out, trying to get everything finished for class, he would calmly laugh and say “One game”. That, of course meant foosball. And yes, I’ll admit it, he was better than me. And every game he won, he’d smile and say “Good game, Gordo”.

He also taught me a lot about Denmark. I always thought the Vikings were from Norway. “Nope” he’d smile about his proud heritage. The Vikings ruled most of Europe at one time… but then they gave it away for some vodka or something he’d joke. So maybe that’s where he got it?

And clearly, he taught me how to dress. Some people may not realize this, but whenever the opportunity arose, whether it was someone’s birthday, a going away party, someone’s graduation, it didn’t even have to be his, he’d wear a suit. He’d walk through the crowd at the party, smiling and saying he just felt like wearing the suit.

Strangely enough, Soren also taught me how to dance. Stick one hand up in the air and put on the biggest smile you could. I think it was because he didn’t like dancing. Because whenever he got uncomfortable, he would smile and laugh. This is something I’ll always remember, instead of running away from something that bothered him; he would welcome it with that trademark and unmatched smile.

That, I think was the very most important lesson Soren taught me. To always smile. Whether you are in a new environment or new situation, smile. If you’re meeting someone new or you’re nervous about a presentation, smile. Even if you’re scared or sometimes a bit sad, smile even wider. Because that’s really what Soren was all about and why I’ll miss him so much – his everlasting optimism and his great smiling heart.

So while we are here today, mourning and missing such a beautiful person and my best friend, we should try and smile. It’s what Soren would want. And it’s good for you.

Depressions from the Sea

On Tuesday, Ed McMahon went off in search of the stars
Farah Fawcett waved a red kiss goodbye
And the King of Pop popped some pills for his one big last Thrill
And yet none of these struck me with any significance
Until currents of water pulled my friend under
When that light washed out, and fairness was torn asunder.

Soren. My friend.  Some things I won’t forget:
Your love of techno, Belgian beer, and tight pants.
How you turned your head sideways for every Facebook photo.
How you smiled at those you knew – and at those you didn’t.

I remember a long day in December.
It was raining outside so I decided to bother you.
“Do Danish people eat Danishes? Isn’t that like cannibalism?”
I thought I was being clever.
You took it seriously.
I never thought I’d spent an entire afternoon discussing pastries.

Soren I can see you now
Walking slowly, lighting up the streets in Paris
Or standing tall across the ocean
Teaching the penguins how to fly
In a world full by brands, yours was the best.
I’d buy a million of you if you came in smaller packages.

When all seems fleeting
We suffer and wonder how.
How we can sustain ourselves through the morning.
But somehow, from somewhere, we gain the strength to move forward.
To move beyond moments like this one.
Where each breath comes easier than the one before,
where laughter fills the space where before there was only black.
What’s strange and painful,
bittersweet and lovely
is that this will happen to us
without us noticing at all.

Picture 5

Soren Hellner (1979-2009)