Being Alive

January 27, 2012

A week ago, I had one of the most bizarre experiences of my life – I was dead.

Well, not really, but one of my friends thought I was.

I was getting ready for bed and kept hearing incoming email notifications from my laptop, which happened to be open and playing music. It was unusual to get so many emails around midnight, so I went to check and see what was up.

What I saw shocked me.

Brandon Sutton was dead.

It turns out that a friend and fellow filmmaker heard through her network that Brandon Sutton had died suddenly that day. Not realizing that this was a different Brandon Sutton, she went on to Facebook to try to confirm whether it was true or not. She tagged me in the post, which caused me to get all the follow-up replies.

I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s ever been curious about how the world would react if I died, but I somehow doubt that many people get to find out while they are still alive. Well, now I know, in a way.

The outpouring of support and comfort from my friend’s network was incredible. And this is from a person that I barely know. We met through our crowd-funding efforts for our respective films and developed a bond over this shared interest. Apparently, it was enough to cause her grief when she thought I was gone.

So, what happens when you get a taste of being dead while you’re still alive?

Well, for me, it’s made me double down on my efforts to use every day that I’m alive to make a positive contribution to the world and do the work that I feel compelled to do.

Some call this legacy work, but I prefer to just call it the work.

Why compartmentalize work that makes a positive impact on society?

Why not make this work the primary focus of our lives and figure out how it can sustain us financially?

These are the questions I’ve been asking for the last few years. It’s not about what people think of me when I’m gone, as that really doesn’t interest me that much. I’m more concerned with how I live my life and what I do with the time I’m given in this physical body, right now.

A couple of people have asked me recently ‘what is your biggest fear?’ My answer to that question is that I fear I won’t do enough to reach my potential to make the world a better place with my time here on earth. To be sure, this isn’t something I obsess over, but it is definitely an area of concern.

See, I believe that with every day that goes by, there are opportunities to create positive change in the world.

Every encounter we have is an opportunity to spread joy to others.

Every moment that we spend with people we care about is a chance to show our appreciation for them.

We are all blessed with opportunities to make a difference, regardless of our specific circumstances. We get to choose what we create out of these opportunities, each and every day.

Chris Guillebeau wrote about urgency and legacy recently in his latest manifesto, The Tower. He talks about what we are each building in our lives and how the world needs us all to express our own creativity through constructing something purposeful.  I encourage you to download it and spread it to your friends and family if it resonates with you (and I seriously hope that it will).

Ironically, I’m in the process of leaving my home of 9 years (known as ‘The Tower’) and embarking on a new chapter in my journey. This is one of the biggest transitions I’ve ever gone through and it’s bringing up a lot of emotions and reflections on my life thus far. More on that next week, but for now I would love to hear your thoughts on legacy, meaning, and doing work that you feel good about.

If you were gone tomorrow, would you be proud of what you accomplished in your life? If not, what changes can you make today to move in that direction?


  • Reply Vicki January 27, 2012 at 11:31 am

    WOW, definitely a moment to cause you to reflect!

    My Grandmother would tell me,”if you want to
    know if you are a good person and touching people’s lives in a meaningful way,
    picture your funeral and who would be there”. I know that’s kind of morbid
    in a way but it makes you stop and think. When my grandmother passed, at her
    funeral it was standing room only and there was a line out the door of people
    wanting to pay their respects. Most of these people no one in the family knew
    but my grandmother had made such a positive impact in their lives that they
    stood in a drizzle to say goodbye.

    I try and teach my kids this same lesson. I tell them if
    you start out your day by deciding that you are going to do something nice for
    at least one person, even if it’s just to make them smile, you are going to
    have a good day.

    You are doing wonderful things Brandon from your heart.
    It touches all of us who have decided to take this ride with you.

    Thank you for letting us.


    • Reply Brandon Sutton January 30, 2012 at 10:21 am

      Thank you so much, Vicki!  This means a great deal to me.  I love the story about your grandmother – I can definitely relate. My grandmother was also one of those people who touched many, many lives in her 96 years here on Earth.

      I appreciate you teaching your kids these life lessons, and I’m thankful that you’ve included some of our work in that teaching.  🙂

  • Reply Ibosarge January 27, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Brandon, I told you along time ago when I first met you the Lord had special plans for you. All the sincere love and compassion you share and the difference you want to make for all that suffer from the wrongfulness of others, it’s not your time to leave us. When the time comes you can and will be at peace knowing that you have accomplished so much in such a short time. But you won’t be having that conversation with yourself for a long time.
      I still fall short in the things I want to accomplish, but hope everytime I send out information it touches someone to help them in some way or another. Trying to stay focused on one task at a time is difficult for me. It is hard to follow through completely on certain tasks I take on.
      Very proud of you and looking forward to hearing about your next journey. What are you up to now?!!! 

    • Reply Brandon Sutton January 30, 2012 at 10:23 am

      Thank you, Lori. I definitely take my role here very seriously and I know I have a lot of work left to do.

      You’ll be seeing some progress very soon on our Gulf coast documentary. Things are about to ramp up and kick into high gear once again. 🙂

  • Reply Elissagerrand January 29, 2012 at 12:53 am

    That is crazy…good to know you are so loved and admired by others. Also glad you are no longer dead.

    • Reply Brandon Sutton January 30, 2012 at 10:22 am

      Thanks. Being not dead is pretty cool. 😉

  • Reply Julia February 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    What a fascinating person you are. I’m curious what has influenced your ‘becoming’. Your are very positive. Much of what you say and belief resonates with me and I share. I’ve enjoyed reading about your travel experiences… especially to New Mexico. It is my dream to have a healing retreat center there some day. I am grateful you are here with us.


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