Unexpected Goodbyes

Adam lawtonLast weekend, one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met passed away.

Adam L. worked on the experiential education team at the therapeutic boarding school where I teach.  He was in charge of taking the students to camp in the wilderness on weekends during Summer and Fall.  These trips helped them relax while surrounded by the gorgeous Utah wilderness, taught them to appreciate nature, and facilitated the students building relationships with each other that would help them through their day to day struggles as they progressed through our therapeutic program.

That was a long paragraph that tried to capture the important role that Adam played at our school.

As a teacher, and someone just generally happy to observe nature through a window or a computer monitor, I wasn’t particularly close to Adam.  He had more energy than me.  He took in more of the world than I did, and we had interests outside of work that ran in opposite directions.  But I would frequently see him around the campus, attend meetings with him, and of course, Christmas and Summer work parties.  Hell, I once spent a whole weekend with him, the weekend team, and the students in lovely and desolate Southern Utah.  It was the coldest, sorest, most challenging thing I’ve experienced since I was in a drum corp 10 years ago.

So while Adam and I weren’t fast friends, we were colleagues.

There’s something about him that just doesn’t come through on paper.  He was genuine.  He cared about EVERYTHING.  He saw the best in every situation and raised the attitude and mood of those around him because he was just so GENUINE, and had such a contagious passion for life.  I know it’s easy to worship the deceased and forget their faults, to reduce them to sound bites and selective memories.  Unless you knew him, you’ll have to take my word for it that I am being straight up about this.

In the wake of his death it’s easy to see the respect he commanded, and the love he earned from everyone around him.  Stories are shared; we laugh and we cry.  We try to carry on, because that’s the way death works.

Adam was just 30 years old.  His passing shakes the illusions that we as humans build for ourselves–that we are safe and that everything is okay.  But if we live in fear of what might happen, are we really getting all we should from life?  Here is what I take from the short time I knew Adam:

Consume life with an insatiable appetite.  Be the best person you can be.  Love those around you without reservation, and hold nothing back in the pursuit of these things.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – 14th Dalai Lama

Farewell, Adam.  Safe journey.