Spotlight Columns

Seizing the day: the art of living life large

By From page B2 | August 13, 2014

It is human nature to observe the ends of things: a beautiful sunset, for example.
We also take note of the beginnings of things. Case in point: the upcoming school year.
But perhaps what we really ought to be looking at is all the points of interest in between. That “stuff” we call … life.
This really came home to me last week, with the passing of a personal friend, Brian Dodson. Brian was a teacher at St. Francis High School. He was just 38, and passed away in his sleep.
We still don’t know the cause of his death.
His family, friends, coworkers, and students at the school are devastated. Things like this just aren’t supposed to happen.
In the days following, friends and family gathered to comfort one another and to reflect on Brian’s life. Social media lit up like a Christmas tree within minutes of the news of his passing. What emerged was a remarkable portrait of a life incredibly well lived.
As a theology teacher, Brian brought creativity and innovation to the classroom. Students would work extra hard to succeed in his “Dodson Says” classroom quizzes. He frequently would stand on top of the desks when teaching about the Old Testament patriarchs — no small feat for an awkward man standing some 6 feet, 5 inches tall.
At school events calling for costume attire, he would dress at the school’s patron saint. The students loved it.
When the Model U.N. needed a teacher to sponsor it, Brian stood up and took on the challenge. He also sponsored the Mini LifeSavers club at the school.
There was never a student (or parent or coworker) Brian could not make time for.
In the eight years he was at St. Francis High, Brian made a significant contribution to the school. He was deep, thoughtful and enthusiastic. I’d argue that he made an impact from the first day he stepped on campus. He challenged the mind and brought a smile to the soul. He lived life large. And I think he was the very best Brian Dodson he could be.
Live Life Large
Whether you have kids or not, life seems to cycle around the school year we all grew up with. The school year is a new beginning. It’s an opportunity to “reset” and put our priorities back on track.
Lately I’ve added a few thoughts to preface my “Bucket List” of things I want to do before I leave the planet. It’s not a long list, but it adds some color to the longer list of “to dos.” Feel free to adapt this to your circumstances.
  • What are my core values? Am I living them? Really?
  • I have gifts and talents. Am I using them to the best of my ability?
  • Am I making some kind of a difference in the lives of others?
  • Am I becoming the very best edition of “me” that I can be?
Each of us is unique.
Each of us is precious in the Eyes of our Creator.
My friend Brian leaves a beautiful legacy to his wife Carrie and their young son Charlie. He also leaves a tremendous hole to fill. Brian’s life made a difference in the minds of lots of students and in the hearts of those who loved him.
We only get a finite amount of time on this beautiful world. Don’t squander a second of it. Make your life a thing of beauty, a work of art.
Carpe Diem – Seize the Day!
Send your event for consideration in Susan’s column to [email protected]

Susan Laird


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