Talking Big Ideas.
“We are interested in others when they are interested in us.”
~ Publius Syrus: A Roman Slave
This week has been heartbreaking.
Sunday morning we found out that one of our closest friends here in Durango, David (pronounced Dah-VEED) Lunde, was missing. He never made it home from a Saturday run in the mountains.
We joined a bunch of concerned friends and the local Search & Rescue patrol. Together we combed the mountains.
Maryrose and I first met David last year at a happy hour sponsored by our local run club. We hit it off immediately. We’ve since gone hiking with David and his girlfriend Haley – as well as soaking in hot springs, dancing, dinners, $5 movie nights, team volleyball, sand volleyball, trail running, track workouts, and more.
So this past Friday night, when Maryose was a featured speaker at an event downtown called Women Outside, David showed up in support. Here’s a picture we took after her talk:
Friends gathered together this past Friday. David is center, next to Maryrose.
David was excited to celebrate his 30th birthday later this month by running 61 miles over 7 mountain peaks. Several of us, myself included, have been training to help pace him on short sections of this epic run.
On Friday, he told us that he was heading out in the morning to spend the day running mountain ridgelines. He left before sunrise.
I understand David’s love of trekking through the mountains. The experience is majestic. As the iconic British mountaineer George Mallory wrote: “What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy.”
The mountains surrounding Durango are beautiful. They make you feel connected to something larger than self. Here’s a picture of friends searching for David:
Yet the mountains can also be treacherous. And the weather is unpredictable. On Sunday, I took this photo of Maryrose and another friend searching for David along the path he took:
This is a section that Search & Rescue felt safe sending us up unassisted. There are other parts of David’s route that are so dangerous even the Search & Rescue experts haven’t been able to access them.
And yet David’s friends have still searched some of this ground. My buddy Joe told me he was on a razor thin ridgeline covered in snow, slowly scooting forward, calling out for David.
Tragically, David is still missing.
But the support for finding him is amazing. Friends from David’s run club, volleyball network, and church show up to help with the search. There are numerous prayer vigils and even a Facebook group with nearly 2,000 members.
Why have so many people joined in this effort?
I think it’s because David was uniquely good at being a friend.
For example, on a recent run he asked me what I was reading. I told him about a long essay by the scientist Erik Hoel that I found fascinating. David listened well and asked questions. And then on our next run together he brought the essay back up. He had read the entire thing so we could talk about it together in more detail.
Dale Carnegie wrote in his classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People:
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
That sums up David.
On our last text exchange, he sent me a link from Marginal Revolution about a recent drama in the chess world. What I love about this is that David isn’t a chess player. But he knows that I like chess – and that my favorite blog is Marginal Revolution.
A volleyball friend told me this week that one time David showed up to a pick-up game with two loaves of bread to share with everyone. He had just baked them himself. On our last group hike together I brought nothing to eat. David brought enough food for several of us – including fresh peaches for everyone.
Maryrose and I go to track practice every Tuesday evening. And without fail David has always been there to greet us with a big enthusiastic smile.
Carnegie wrote: “If we merely try to impress people and get them interested in us, we will never have many true, sincere friends . . . if we want to make friends, let’s greet people with animation and enthusiasm.”
Because David was so focused on others, many don’t realize how fascinating his background is.
He’s a fifth generation North Dakota rancher who was fluent in French and spent his early childhood living in Central Africa. He was an elite athlete who studied on three continents and took a leadership course in Washington D.C. By his mid-20s he was working simultaneously as a county Tax Director, a newspaper journalist, a substitute teacher, and a rancher.
Despite his worldly travels and accomplishments, he would never dare to brag. Instead of using conversation to elevate his status, he would use it to elevate others.
He ate ethically and was deeply religious but wasn’t pushy about either. Instead he quietly embodied Christ’s commandment from the Sermon on the Mount: love one another as I have loved you.
The Tao Te Ching describes how different people respond after hearing profound truths on how to live well:
Foolish people laugh at them.
Normal people talk about them.
Wise people live them.
David lived them.
Remember David Lunde and be genuinely interested in others.
This weekend embrace the wisdom of David Lunde. Reach out to one person you know. Be genuinely interested in them. Ask about something that’s likely to be on their mind.
Here’s a picture of David from two weeks ago. He’s nine miles into an arduous mountain run – and absolutely loving it:
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