“There is a deeper wound when people don’t hear our words of affection. There is a greater loss when people don’t hear our praise. It’s a loss for them, and we’re diminished by it because there’s something… a certain level of grieving when we know that our expression of ‘I love you’ has fallen on deaf ears. That hurts at the soul level.”
Trey Pennington, From the Dynamite Dialogs
As many of you know, our world is short a storyteller.
And all of us, his friends, fans, followers and family, are hurting at the soul level. Because we know that our expressions of “I love you” were not enough.
After Trey’s first attempt to end his life was made public, I sent him an email. We weren’t close friends, although we shared a stage and many core values, our paths did not cross often. But a story he told to me during a conversation we had while preparing to record a dialog for a product I was launching kept coming back to me. It was so poignant, so powerful and so clearly something Trey was passionate about, that I asked him to repeat it when we recorded that dialog.
It was the story of Amanda. A little girl he’d known at Hidden Treasure school, Amanda was considered “non-verbal/non-communicative.” And yet, she managed to communicate her feelings to Trey in a way that he never forgot.
I emailed him a reminder of that story. I said “people are trying to tell you something, are you listening?”
In the end, as you know, the voices in his head were louder than all the “I love yous” that were being shouted and whispered, emailed and posted. We were all “Amandas” - as he said in the dialog, “We are all non-verbal/non-communicative.”
I listened to our conversation again after a friend sent a DM on twitter alerting me that he was gone. I’d clicked through the photo album he posted only hours before and wondered what was in his mind. But as many have noted, the posts leading up to that morning’s decision indicated a positive outlook. I thought about how we weren’t getting his message and he wasn’t getting ours. Non-verbal/non-communicative indeed.
Trey was best known as a social media expert and advocate, and in the dialog you’ll hear his passion for that medium coming through loud and clear.
I once mediated a panel with him and several others and, while he seldom took the mic to respond to questions, his fingers flew over the keyboard as he tweeted his responses to the audience. (That’s me with Trey and Lewis Howes, another panelist, at the same event that he mentions in the dialog - Zig Ziglar was also one of the speakers.)
But Trey’s real passion, beyond the medium of social media or digital messaging, was story.
He and I talked a great deal about the “universal lessons” in story - what it requires from us and what it offers. He was often heard to say that all humans, universally, have a deep desire for three things; “to be heard, to be understood, and to know that they count.”
We’re all wondering how we failed to hear and understand, and how Trey failed hear or understand us and how he could not take it in just how much he counted to so many.
I’m sharing this audio - originally part of a product - because the stories Trey told may not have reached him, but I hope and believe they will reach many of you.
I ask you - no, I challenge you - to do what Trey did for Amanda, but could not do for himself. To breathe in the love, to let others know that we know what they are feeling and that yes, it counts.