My friend Art Shirk was a fierce champion for living life fully in each and every moment. His blog, appropriately titled “Comfort Is Overrated,” was a powerful message about and testament to what it means to truly live with one’s heart wide open. Art was a master at “creating from everything,” and when he was diagnosed in 2014 with IPF, a progressive and terminal lung disease, he embraced the process fully with profound vulnerability and honesty.
Because of the IPF, Art’s lung capacity was seriously compromised, so he coined the phrase “make every breath count.” As he journeyed through the progression of this terminal disease, Art did exactly that. He produced a variety of powerful writings on surrender and on slowing down. He wrote about how his disease had brought him to be more present and appreciative of the little moments that make life so rich. Along with his husband, John, Art designed a workshop titled “Living, Loving and Dying,” which he delivered in a number of locations around the world.
Art asked me to co-lead what would certainly be his last leadership program. Of course, I jumped at the chance because I knew that it would be a profound gift to me personally. I did not fully realize at the time all that Art would teach both me and everyone in the Ferrets Leadership Tribe during our journey through the first three retreats of this program.
From Art, we gained a whole new understanding of what it means to stay and what true intimacy really looks like. Art was passionate, committed and uncompromising, demonstrating pretty much with every breath what it means to love fully and stand firmly for those we love. Although he was not able to make it to the final retreat, just one week ago he hosted a call with the whole group and inspired and moved us all beyond imagining. This final retreat begins today — one week after our call, and the day following Art’s passing. I trust that we will make every breath and every moment count as we travel together towards completion of this incredible journey.
Art’s impact on CTI and the Co-Active world has been extensive and profound. Whatever your relationship — co-leader, coaching program leader, leadership participant, client or friend — Art left his mark with enormous heart, deep wisdom, vast generosity and a fierce commitment to the greatness of others.
Art was a love warrior and master of the “aha moment.” He showed us how to live and also how to die. He was hugely loved and will be deeply missed.
Art loved stories. Please share any (or anything you would like) in the comments section below.