Precious Life and Losing Yourself

Soleil and Dino Walker

Life is so precious. Having a child who smiles and laughs at the simplest of new things awakens such a deep profound joy in your heart. It makes you realize how important life and love is. A fire burns inside of you to protect those you care about, and to make sure they live as joyfully as possible.

Earlier today, we lost a good man, Trey Pennington. The level of shock and mourning online is unprecedented in this community, and there is good reason for that. Trey was one of the most encouraging, kind people on the interwebs. He was a good soul who benefited many people’s lives, mine included.


Trey wrote on my wall yesterday, sharing a small success with one of my clients in encouraging fashion, as was his way. It seemed very much in character. It has already been said, but like Olivier, I am just heartbroken.

As with many people I associate with online, I did not meet Trey in real life, but we talked a bit over the years. He shared his frustrations with writing a book, and we both had a common dislike for some of the behaviors popularity-seeking top bloggers exhibited. But Trey would always gently encourage me to stay focused, and keep using my online skills for good.

And like Trey, I also went through a separation, and it just devastated me, causing a deep depression. We were fortunate, and worked it out. Two years later last October, Miss Soleil joined our family. Caitlin was 39 and I was 38.

To a great extent, my troubles were caused by an overvaluing of my import online. Looking back I can see how lucky I was to have recovered what had carelessly been thrown away. Now I am blessed enough to be a father, my most important job in life.

The circumstances of Trey’s death don’t matter to me. What is important is the encouragement and the reminders, which I will choose to keep and remember. Further, I will pass them on. Trey’s legacy will live.

It’s so easy to lose yourself in this rat race online. Twitter followers, Google+ suggested recommended list, on and on. And the way some people lord their following and sense of self-import cannot help but feel like an attack on your worth in a faux attention economy.

Maybe you have been fortunate enough to become well known and liked. That can be a Faustian trap, luring your mind and heart to chase false idols.

But know this, friends, it’s bullshit. It really is. An egregious sense of import takes hold, and we become distracted from what really matters, those loved ones who are near to us that rely on our daily contributions. There are also those who are more distant, but look to us to lead, or to share our experience, strength and hope.

No one will remember you for your blog rank or your follower count. They will remember you for the impact you made in real lives. This is what matters. Sometimes we have to make that impact even if it is not known or recognized. Compassion and giving is not about fame. It is about making the world a better place.

At times we cannot help, but become lost. Grace can save us. In the worst scenarios, even that is not enough. Darkness can take us. But those we have impacted will remember the kind acts.

Sometimes when I hold Soleil and play with her or drop her off at day care, it brings tears to my eyes. She is here in spite of my poor judgment three years ago. I know how lucky I am, and I am so grateful.

Hold your loved ones this Labor Day weekend. Feel and know in the deepest part of your soul that esteem is a derivative of doing esteemable things, not from winning the attention rat race. Understand how precious life is, and spread compassion. It may just make a difference where you least expect it.