People & Interviews / Dustin Stanley Fields (1980-2010)

Dustin Stanley Fields (1980-2010)

Dustin Stanley Fields (1980-2010)

5 December 2010 People & Interviews 47

The publishers of Yucatan Living, James and Ellen Fields, lost their son Dustin on November 9th. He died unexpectedly in his sleep and was 30 years old. His ashes were divided among family and friends. James and Ellen scattered their portion in the Caribbean near Akumal, the location of Dustin's first SCUBA dive trip to Mexico. Dustin's obituary can be found here. Dustin's father wrote the following "Brief History of Dustin Fields", which he read at Dustin's memorial service:

Dustin came into being like the Roman emperors - by cesarean - and he ruled his world. His hair glowed like a golden crown in the sunlight. The freckled boy-king honored his mother and father through the ritual of slinging libations from his highchair throne.

He stood up early, but he spoke late. His first word after learning “no” was “yes”.

He delighted in the birth of his sister Denise, because he knew in the years ahead his reign would require an apostle, a charming assistant, an able conspirator and a steadfast confidant.

He thrilled at the speed of his big three-wheel chariot. He went on long “explores” to the Chalk Mountaintop where he discovered discovery, and the comforting perfume of his Earth mother.

When first wounded in battle, the scar on his face was transformed into a dimple.

Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca and the universe of Star Wars joined his world, and he lived for a time in galaxies of imagination, far, far away.

All great kings are given gifts in threes. It was at this time in Dustin’s life when three prophets arrived, one each for Dustin’s body, mind and spirit.

The prophet for his body was Tony Hawk. Dustin’s chariot was soon replaced by a four-wheeled, land-speeder called a “skateboard”. Proclamations such as Drop-Ins, Ollies and McTwists were heard throughout the land. And it came to pass that blueprints were summoned to build a special ark measuring various cubits, on which “shredding” would be practiced as a religion, and it would be called “Dustiny”. Followers paid pilgrimage and there was much ska and rejoicing.

The prophet for his mind was the famous sage, David Copperfield, master of illusion, of the inside joke and of the mind-fuck. Dustin’s technical skills with Chinese linking rings, invisible thread and the hidden mysteries of levitation would eventually evolve into the prestidigitation of Visual Basic, C++ and dot net software, turning inanimate boxes into magical things of wonder. And the crowd was amazed.

There was once a humble pueblo in México called Paricutin. One day the cornfields withered, the earth heaved and the streets of the village fumed. Before anyone could react, a volcano sprang up, erupting with winds of change and altering the landscape forever.

Such is divorce.

At this time the third prophet arrived, the prophet for Dustin’s spirit, and his name was Edward Vedder. Dustin soon learned the Ten and the Versus, through the bass guitar of Jeff Ament. In this discovery, his companion Denise endured the baptism of the mosh pit and the ritual of the pop quiz more than any of Dustin’s other disciples.

Dustin was befriended by a refugee from Mexico, who became his hermano grande, Rene Sanchez. They shared the teachings of Jimi and of Zeppelin and of the rock that will never die. Neil Young became Dustin’s godfather, YES was his choir, and Mars Volta sang serenades.

From ashes and song sprang a reinvented Dustin, no longer the freckled boy-king, but a philosopher-warrior on a quest. The new landscape demanded that he scale unexpected heights, and so his attention turned to the mountain bike and the steep climb over unyielding stone. He would no longer explore the mountaintop; he would conquer it.

Sadly one night, Sean stepped too close to the edge, and Dustin accepted that we are only immortal for a limited time. He became the Traveler, moving as easily from Big Sur to India, as from one universe of friends to another. From his poker table at home to the World Series of Poker in Vegas, from the tennis court to the basketball court, from the Carlton to the Guest House, from Yucatan to Bali to a Thai restaurant actually in Thailand, his feet almost never touched the ground.

There were times when Dustin’s world went black, and he would rather starve than eat its bread. He would, however eat and drink almost anything else, whether it was to expand his mind or tame it. Marijuana, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, Methamphetamine, and recipes from the bartender’s guide were all tasted and critiqued, the final winner being Long Island Ice Tea.

Bob Combs and a metaphorical mountaintop of books, written by writers living, dead and otherwise, were his private guides through his fear and loathing. A complete bibliography of Dustin’s reading list was prepared for this history, but unfortunately, it was eaten by Schrödinger’s cat.

For us mere mortals, life is a cycle of desolation and consolation. Verse and chorus, followed by verse and chorus. In the end, Dustin, too, knew he was a mere mortal, because, in the end, what mattered most to him were his consolations.

Like Jessica.

Like concerts with his constant companion, Denise.

Like Laker games at Grandma Bonnie’s, with his teammate and cousin, Eric.

Like Bishop’s and the Spire with Troy.

Like being on “the porch” with Matt and Katie.

Like pestering his “bastard” sister Aryn (look it up).

Like long, thoughtful talks with his stepmentor, Ellen.

Like playing head-games with his enigmatic stepsister, Zoe.

Like simply being with his brother-in-law Ryan and our new boy-king, Eli.

And always, behind his back, he could feel his mother’s protective chant of “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo”.

At the end of Dustin’s sweet, bitter, complicated but really rather long life, he received two great rewards: the Healer and the Dream. The Healer, of course, was his comforter, his foil, his mirror and his novia, La Tuerpa, who most of us call Michl. The Dream was to have, at least for a brief time, la vida nueva, in México.

In the final analysis of our subject, the boy-king, the explorer, the philosopher-warrior, the Traveler and ultimately the mere mortal we came to know, the better man who would be our friend: he was always seeking, in his own sarcastic way, to learn the truth. And in the end, history will record, that Dustin discovered the greatest truth you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.


  • Gregg 10 years ago

    You and your family are in our prayers

  • Samuel Barrera y paul ziegler 10 years ago

    what a beautiful narrative eulogy written by a loving father. words are not enough to convey our sadness of your loss. you very special people are in our minds and prayers.

  • paola giovine and donald niedermayer 10 years ago

    Dear Jim and Ellen... the best we can offer, besides our thoughts and the Light and Mantra is to repeat my favourite haiku which i always read after a sudden death...there are so many beautiful ways to say goodbye, but this is the one i always come back to...

    bound heavenward,
    ship of the moon.

    donald and paola

  • madeline 10 years ago

    Querido Jim,
    How well you knew, cherished and honored your son. How ineffably sad that he has moved on. And how brilliantly he LIVED his life.
    You and Ellen are in my warmest embrace.
    I love you both. M.

  • Dianne Purdie 10 years ago

    Ellen and Jim

    My heart is breaking for you in your loss. What you wrote about your son is beautiful. Dustin was, is and will always love and be loved. May his spirit comfort you.


  • Matt Shearer 10 years ago

    Dear Friends, We've not met but you have served as our guide to Merida for some time. As we prepare to spend our first full winter in Merida we turned to YL only to discover your most impassioned and beautifully written article was describing the tragic loss of your child. We are deeply sorry.

  • Mariposa 500 10 years ago

    I am so very sorry for your loss.

  • Karen Ferguson 10 years ago

    Ellen and Jim,
    I'm so sorry. This post took me by surprise and I gasped for I'm sure you have as well. If I had a magic wand, I' wave it over you both for some consolation, but I don't. One walks through tragedy hopefully weaving the past memories into the present moment. I am certain that you have many rich & fond memories.

    Will contact you when we arrive in Merida.
    By the way, I finally got two of your pictures of us on a Christmas card this year. It's lovely and makes me happy when I look at it. I''ll save you one.....Blessings to you both.

  • Heather 10 years ago

    Dear Ellen: I am so sorry to hear of yours and Jim's loss. His father's tribute to Dustin brings to life this young man from whom we could all learn so much.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you both and your family at this most difficult time---children are not supposed to die before their parents.
    With sympathy,
    Heather and Norm

  • Joanna van der Gracht de Rosado 10 years ago

    The loss of a child is a heartbreak that knows no equal. I am deeply, deeply sorry for your loss. There are no words that will really comfort you just now... but know there are are some who understand the deep, complicated emotions you are experiencing. We are always here for you... whenever you need us.

  • Dee Sportsman 10 years ago

    Ellen, I met you in December 2008 while visiting in Merida and have always remembered you. Thank you for sharing this beautiful history of your son. Sending healing thoughts and light to you and your family.

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