I wrote this post October 31st, 2010 and have decided to finally post it. It is about a very important person in my life who passed. Writing helped me capture what I loved most about Scott, but also some insights into how to live a life that others will want to reflect on and remember.
Be Mindful of the Sacred and the Eternal
Scott was interested in the sacred and the eternal. He knew of the practical and pedestrian parts of life that wear on all of us, and he attended to those perfunctorily, with discipline. They are not what kept his interest or his heart, however. When we would talk (which we did often over lunch or coffee), he would have little time for the mundane. We would discuss books and significant life experiences, peeling each layer off the onion to get to the core. He wanted to find the meaning, the purpose, the sacred. Scott and I did not always agree, and yet neither of us judged the other. He never believed he knew more or held his views or values in a higher standard than my own.
You Can’t Judge the Value of a Life until the End
On a flight back from a sailing trip in San Diego. Scott turned to me and said, “I don’t think we would have been friends when we were younger.” He shared how he had made such a profound change in his life, allowing God to become close to him, and how he found a soul mate that he loved beyond words. And how his children provided so much joy and meaning to his life. He was proud of his current life, but he wasn’t as proud of some of the choices he made when he was younger. He judged himself harshly for that period of his life. It’s tragic he felt that way because his friends from those times have spoken so well of him.
Aristotle said, “You can’t judge the value of a life until the end.” My perspective of Scott is limited to the last seven years we rotated around the sun together. In all those years, he was a beloved, true, and extremely valuable friend. He treated me like a brother, and I loved him like one.
Scott had a good dose of ego and it helped him be a good leader, but he was open-minded, too. One way to think about an issue was never enough for him; he was relentless in his pursuit of understanding others’ views. We would talk for hours about business, more from how it affected others and ourselves than about the dollars and cents. Even when people behaved poorly, he would work so hard to understand their perspective.
When we met the last couple of times, he had found that place where all perspectives–everything and everyone–disappear into a singular state. A state of love. He understood the sacred and our place on the earth and how we were to be with one another.
Although I do not follow the structural practice of religion, most of my closest friends are faithful in whatever religion they have chosen for themselves. Scott was no exception. Our conversations would often begin with me asking him what he was reading in one of his study groups. Our conversations were investigations of faith, not debates–and I loved that. As a result, we found some surprising and wonderful common ground.
What question should guide your life?
Scott’s passing prompted me to consider some of the questions that might guide a person’s life:
- What would you like to have someone say at your funeral?
- Why can’t you be replaced?
- What will stick with those you love and love you?
This last question sits best with me. I’ll remember my talks with Scott, our sharing, our compassion and passion for others, as well as our pursuits of growing things. He loved business, and solving the problems that every businessperson is challenged by in their careers. He was playful, too, and hid this from me for many years until he understood how truly silly I can be. He was also generous; after I left my company, he would never let me pay when we went out to eat. He said, “When you start earning more than me you can start paying.” Okay, he was also very competitive. We would play games while drinking a nice glass of red wine, and he would squash me at pool, foosball, ping pong, and hoops. I did not stand a chance. When I beat him at video pinball (a favorite of his), I think we were both surprised. The outcomes weren’t as important as the camaraderie, though.
Scott will stick with me, and I hope part of him will stick with you now, too.