I haven’t been able to write here for a while. Some of you may know that my friend and mentor, Scott Dinsmore of Live Your Legend, was killed September 12 while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Dealing with that loss—as a member of the Live Your Legend team, and on a personal level—has been tremendously challenging for me, and has consumed much of my thoughts (and actions) these past weeks.
But as the grief changes (not lessens, but manifests differently), I’m feeling the need to talk about Scott, and what he’s meant to me. It seems appropriate to do it here, since he’s one of the main catalysts for this blog existing in the first place…
A few years ago, the Pixar movie Up was one of my son’s favorites, in heavy rotation on the family TV downstairs, and watched in between times on the small TV in his bedroom. I don’t disagree with his choice—I like the movie, too.
My daughter, on the other hand, hates it. “Why do you want to watch that… AGAIN?” she would say as the initial scenes were queuing up. “It’s so SAD.”
She’s not wrong. From her perspective, the death of Carl’s wife, Ellie, is “sad.” And for her, that sadness colors the whole rest of the movie.
No matter that they are cartoons, Pixar movies are not “kids’ movies.” Children can enjoy them, but they are made for adults, too.
Up though, is perhaps even more adult than some of the others. There is poignancy and pain in it. There is loss. There is regret. In that way, it’s much like life.
Those of us who knew Scott—in whatever way he touched our lives—feel acutely the pain of the loss of him and what he meant to us. We miss him, and don’t know what our lives will be like without him in it. We feel empty—hollowed out by the pain of that loss.
But our pain is important, too. Important for us to feel, and not ignore.
Grief hollows us—carves us out—so that we can be filled again more deeply.
The thing is, we can choose what will fill us. If we are, because of our pain, to feel more deeply than ever before, what feelings will we choose for ourselves? Will we choose to be filled with bitterness and fear and regret, or will we choose to be filled with love, and hope, and joy?
“Adventure is out there!”
To honor Scott’s memory, we should look to his life to guide us in that choice. We should remember his tremendous energy, his enthusiasm and zest for life, his caring about people, his desire to do good in the world, his bravery in facing his fears, and all the other heroic qualities that made up the person we know as Scott.
I think that’s why, when thinking about Scott’s sudden death at 33, and his life in those 33 years, that the movie Up returns to my mind.
In many ways, Scott and Ellie are much alike. Their enthusiasm is infectious, sweeping introverts like Carl (and me) along on their grand adventures.
And, just like the movie, when the leader of the Explorer’s Club dies, with much of the dream still ahead, it’s up to us, like Carl, to continue the mission—and to take others (like young Russell) on the adventure with us.
I see Live Your Legend like that. Scott blazed the trail and created a path for us to follow. But now we’ve reached the wilderness again, and the trail is overgrown. We can see our destination in the distance, but how do we get there?
We must cut our own path.
This is where we must live our legend… where we must now, because our hero is gone, become the hero ourselves.
We must aspire to be like Scott:
• We must pursue our life’s work, no matter what.
• We must live each day with gusto, for we never know when it will be our time.
• We must face our fears and take action.
• We must change the lives of others for the better.
• We must serve as a testament to the supportive, honest, powerful communities we have built under his leadership.
If we can do those things, we do our best to honor the memory and legacy of a man who changed our lives… always with the intention that we, in turn, would change the world.
Thank you, Scott, for everything you did—for all of us, and for each one of us.
I miss you, my friend.
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[Image courtesy Glenna Barlow (cc)]