My guest for this episode is Yoga teacher and physical therapist, Ryan Conrad. He died on February 23rd, 2017, about 16 months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I haven't fully processed this loss. The day after his passing, I joined a group of close friends on his porch, gathered in silence, waiting for his body to be transferred out of the house, into a hearse. Vedic ragas filled his home with transcendent primordial sound, easing the soul’s transition from embodiment onward toward whatever comes next.
Through the glass door you could see his body. Frail and dressed in white, bald from the chemo and stiff from rigor mortis. He looked beautiful, wise and at peace. Ryan died way too young but surrounded by people he loved. I’m aware that may sound cliché, but when you witness it first hand, you realize it’s not.
While waiting for Ryan's body to be removed, all I could see were his feet. They were the feet of a yogi. As they wheeled his physical body onto the porch and away, we all joined together in an a cappella version of Swing Low Sweet Chariot. The only Gospel song I know.
Ryan was a uniquely wonderful being. He touched many peoples lives. Some of those people showed up to see his body for the last time. He leaves behind a young wife and a two-year-old son. I can't even imagine what this boy will grow up to be like, but if he's anything like his father the world has a wonderful gift coming.
A college fund has been set up for Ryan’s son, Harper Reed. If you feel inspired to donate after hearing this conversation, please consider contributing to Harper Reed’s college fund.
Checks can be sent to:
Harper Reed Conrad's College Fund 529
85 State Street
Asheville, NC 28806
Please make checks payable to: Harper Reed 529
This was an exceptionally profound interview for me. Ryan was someone who loved life, and that comes through beautifully during our talk. I miss him already, but knowing I can revisit one of the most enjoyable discussions I’ve ever had with anybody, gives me something meaningful I can return to when I need it.
It was about a year ago when I invited Ryan over to record this podcast. I knew he had cancer and I hoped this could serve as a piece of the legacy he’d be leaving behind for his son. I fully intended to release it while he was still alive, and I'm of course racked with guilt that this never happened. I wish he could have heard it. I know he would've enjoyed it. But it wasn't really for him, it was for everyone else and I believe they will cherish it. I hope you will, too. This is one of those times I feel deeply humbled to have this podcast. Episodes like this give the whole thing meaning. I miss you, Ryan. And I will never forget you.