They Were All Splendid

Darren Barefoot died on February 20, 2023 following complications from metastatic cancer. Just weeks before he passed, Darren wrote this reflection on his life. I hope you find pleasure in it. You can read more about Darren’s life in this remembrance.

When I was a turtle-neck wearing theatre student, if you’d asked me what the purpose of life was I would have said to see the great cathedrals of Europe. And, I’ve seen them. From the dusty spires of the Munster in Cologne to the clay coloured minarets of Ta Pinu and Notre Dame before it burned. They were all splendid. 

Art has been everything in my life. I stood alone in a room of Picassos in Dusseldorf. I saw Rousseau’s, The Dream – a glorious hallucination, for Rousseau had never been to the jungle, he’d only seen it in books. I saw Rebecca Horn’s exploded piano in Dublin, hanging over my head like a premonition.

I saw Waiting for Godot performed on the 75th anniversary of its writing. I came to understand how Irish and hilarious it is. I saw Mamie Gummer light up a grimy Manhattan cellar in a one-woman show. I stood in the wooden “O” of Shakespeare’s recreated Globe.

I saw Van Morrison point towards Bantry Bay and then to Derry Quay on stage in Belfast as if he were “bigging up” a couple local pubs. I saw Elvis Costello startle a crowd of maudlen hipsters with a scorching cover of Cowgirl in the Sand while wearing a gold lamé jacket. I was harangued by Gordon Downie to remember that, “life is forgetting.”

I walked and walked and walked. I was a flâneur meandering around cities. I walked across corners of Ireland, England and France. I loved the solace and the freedom from decision making. There’s particular pleasure in finishing a 20-kilometre day at a thousand-year-old inn knowing there’d be just one dinner option on the menu. 

I wrote a book, I wrote a play and at least six thousand blog posts rife with dumb hot takes and cancellable offences. I ran a newspaper, a theatre company and a business. After a mentor invited me to work on the Copenhagen Climate Talks, I realised I could earn a living and still be on the side of the angels. And so, I helped to change laws that protect nature; I compelled people to get vaccinated during a pandemic; and I shook the hands of Prime Ministers in Paris.

I loved a woman for 27 years, but that is private and not for you. 

This has been my life: art, exploring, work and love. I’m proud of it and sad that it’s shortened. I haven’t seen Asia. Will the Canucks win the Stanley Cup in the next thirty years? Will people walk on Mars?

I have a Buddhist friend who legitimately believes that every person is doing their best all of the time. I’ve finally come around to this idea. I’ve lived the best life I could.


  1. db, you are unique and remarkable in ways that are hard to express. But you are all the things I want and need in a friend. Thank you for sharing so many joyful moments with me. You’ve had a profound impact on those you leave behind. We are sending you on packed full of love. Farewell.

  2. I love this quote, and it’s so fitting for Darren Barefoot. I think the purpose of life is to do what makes you happy, and as Darren said, to see the great cathedrals of Europe. I’m so glad he was able to see them before he died.

  3. This article is most is full of wisdom and things to think about.
    He has left a legacy that will be greatly missed.
    I’m very happy to know some of things that made him happy & blessed.
    Gwen Tessler

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