Updated: 10:09 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009 | Posted: 1:00 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009
By Dale Huffman
Nicholas Kau, “My Life, in a Few Words” essay
“The idea of a life story is one of the largest, deepest, and mysterious ideas that someone can consider. I talk about this concept almost daily with my father who seems to have made it a hobby to ponder different meanings of life without ever reaching a conclusion.
“Your life story is a mixture of identity and the events that happen to you by fate and by coincidence. This is true because how your life rolls out depends on what happens and how your respond to that. Although it is fun to hypothesize what could’ve, should’ve, and would’ve happened if you had done something different . that isn’t your life story.
“(One stage) starts around the time I entered Trinity (school in New York City). I directed my random energy into an energy devoted towards emulating my brothers (Andrew and Timothy). Having two brothers precede you at a small private school leaves a reputation for you whether you like it or not, and I did love it. Therefore this stage starts when I began as the third Kau or the baby Kau.
“(Out of my friends) I was one of the first to have a serious girlfriend. Looking back, I can say she defined my high school experience, even though not all of it was fun and not all of it was together. All my other relationships with friends, family, teachers and strangers were affected by my relationship with her, and therefore she adequately reflects the the last chapter of my life.
“My mom (Elizabeth Olmsted) is the enforcer and regulator of the peace. Passionately tring to keep us as happy as possible, she loves us very much and drives us crazy. And my dad, quietly observing, sometimes puts in his opinions, other times keeps his mouth shut, but always knowing that things will work themselves out.
“He wants to pass on his knowledge to his boys , so I feel that I have absorbed a good amount of his feelings on life. The number one thing he has been trying to teach me is that I should live with no regrets because you can’t change the past, but you can make the future as good as possible.
“After seeing a young man stabbed to death on Amsterdam Avenue, I spent a long time just upset at the fact that a life could be taken away in literally no more than 30 seconds. I’ve been in fights with my brother, mother and girlfriend that have made me feel sadder than I’ve ever been. I’ve flown on a plane that was marked by a terrorist organization to crash. One of my best friends’brother died of cancer and one of my best friends’ father died from a heart attack.
“However, sadness, guilt, fear, embarrassment, or self-loathing can’t can’t compare to the feeling that life is futile. Thinking that death will ensnare you for no reason, at any time, instantaneously, makes you wonder if doing anything is worth it.
“This was a pretty dark period of loneliness. My mother helped me a lot by reminding me that since life is so fragile you should make every moment worth it, but there was still a hanging doubt in my mind. My girlfriend and I were going through a rough patch as well and usually our relationship is a major support in my life. Without that relationaship being solid and without a strong faith in life, I was lost.
“During a trip to England I was finally able to shake doubt off. On our last night there, before we moved to Edinburgh, I heard rain drops around 2 a.m. After two weeks without any rain or any change in the weather, big heavy rain drops were falling. I poked my head outside my window and saw a girl on my trip looking up into the sky as well. We climbed out our windows and just stood in the rain for a minute, not talking,
“There is a lot of symbolism associated with rain, but at the purest level, it is just nice, cool water. And at that moment in my life all I needed was some nice, cool water. The drops turned into a downpour and as the rain increased, so did my excitement. (There was) dancing in the rain, doing cartwheels and leaps and screaming and rolling in the mud and living. The rain stopped as quickly as it had come and we laughed together and went back into our rooms. I chucked my wet clothes into the corner and crawled under my dry sheets, moments before falling into a much needed rest. I thought about how horrible life is, how it can crash and burn in an instant. And every person on the planet knows that, but yet we persevere and enjoy the rain. This was my turning point, from my worst, to my best.
“After this experience, I felt like I had turned over a new life, become a new man. In some respects I had changed. In other ways I had just imagined that I had changed. After that summer I had an enthusiastic view on life and I was determined to make the most of it. Life is valuable. Family is forever. Never waste a moment with the people you love.
“Overall, in my life, I’d say that there is a theme of being content with myself and the decisions I have made, being good to others, and enjoying life and the company of the people I love. Most of my life consists of making decisions based on the idea that I should be as happy as possible, and I think the rest of my life will form itself around what my perception of happiness is at that point.”
Nicholas James Peter Kau was born on April 15, 1990 and died on January 10, 2009 in New York City, his home.