As you get older you begin to see more and more that people are dying around you, sometimes in droves. I hate that. It’s just got to stop. More and more your contemporaries are beginning to pass and sometimes it’s hard not to get caught up in the sadness of it all. My mother used to say that every day is a gift. I never really thought about it a lot. But these days I think about it often.
When you’re younger, you think yourself invincible. Nothing is going to happen to you. It always happens to the other guy and usually the much older other guy. And then one morning you wake up and realize that all of a sudden you are that older guy. When did that happen? How did it happen? I certainly don’t know how to explain it. But it’s happening.
Today it was Roger Ebert who died at the age of 70. Author, Pulitzer Prize winner, columnist for the Chicago Sun Times. I was surprised to hear of his passing especially since there was an article in the paper just this morning about his blog and his ongoing battle with cancer. Once I heard I decided to check out his blog. The last entry was just two days ago. He either was not expecting to die or was being the eternal optimist regarding his health. In his blog he talked about his life, his cancer and his future endeavors with no indication at all that within two days he would be gone.
What an interesting life he lead. His ties to Colorado were strong. He held an honorary degree from the University of Colorado and for years attended the Conference on World Affairs here where he hosted one of its most popular programs, Cinema Interuptus. The program consisted of the screening of a film one one evening and then on subsequent evenings the rescreening of it where anyone in the audience could stop the film at any point, make a comment or ask a question. This process went on night after night until the final frame of the film was screened. It was always a packed house.
Back in Chicago, I used to love watching Siskel and Ebert At The Movies and wonder which film(s) would get the coveted two thumbs up. There was also his column in the Friday paper reviewing the latest releases. I always poured over those and many times would see or not see a film based on his review. So it saddened me to hear of his passing today but reading his blog made me realize, once again, that it is not the number of years you live but the quality of those years that matters. You can spend a lot of time bemoaning the fact that you’re older, that you can’t do what you used to do, that all your contemporaries are gone, or you can choose to live a life filled with wonder, joy and excitement. It’s all up to you. So, thank you Roger Ebert for once again reminding me of that. I choose the latter. And to me that constitutes a two thumbs up life!