My dear friend and colleague David Fleming unexpectedly passed away last night, peacefully in his sleep.
I am still somewhat in shock.
I only had the great fortune to know him for four years, but from the outset I knew what a privilege it was. He found me at a time when I was struggling to know where to direct my energies, and supported me in so many ways to learn how to build a life around doing what I love.
Over those years he has become one of my closest friends. Heading to the local pub in Hampstead for a drink with him was simply one of the best things I have found in this life.
Even the name of this site (which I love) owes a great deal to him. After much agonising I just couldn’t decide on a name that felt right, until David heard me mutter to myself in jest “oh, maybe I should just call it Dark Optimism”. I well remember him seizing on this, and declaring that “Shaun, I would consider it an honour to partner with Dark Optimism”. I laughed, but over the next couple of days the idea somehow solidified in me to the point where it was obviously the right choice.
I will likely expand on this post when my head is clearer, but for now…
Thank you for all you did for me David, and for our world. I love you, and I’ll miss you so very very much.
his life’s work, was published posthumously by Chelsea Green Publishing in 2016, and is available here.
~ Other online tributes will be added here as I hear of them:
The Ham and High’s obituary for David (David’s local paper)
Trinity College, Oxford’s obituary for David (David’s alma mater. See p.63 of the report, p.65 of the pdf)
Martin Davis (to whom we owe the wonderful picture above)
Brief 1m20 video clip of David and his flat, from 2008 (courtesy of his long-time friend John Cunningham)
Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay”.
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.
And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.