Saturday, June 14, 2008

Our Cosmic Eyeblink

I wrote this entry yesterday during my work break and am posting it today.

Tim Russert died today. He was only 58. Preliminary reports say he collapsed at work when his heart stopped beating, and he couldn't be revived.

Russert's sudden death sent shock waves through the American news media. Russert was widely considered to be one of the best political interviewers and reporters in the business, and he was also renowned for his infectiously enthusiastic and friendly personality. Nobody expected him to die when or how he did.

I'm only three years younger than he was, and I have a heart condition for which I take medication to prevent cardiac arrhythmia. My condition is relatively benign, but it does carry with it a higher than normal risk of the same kind of sudden cardiac arrest and death that struck down Tim Russert.

As deaths go, Russert's was probably about as easy as they come. Conscious one moment...unconscious the next. Dead soon after. Probably little or no warning or pain. Out...out brief candle.

One is tempted to say at such a time: "The sudden death of Tim Russert serves as a powerful reminder that death spares no one, and that it can come without warning at any time. Therefore, we must live life to the fullest and not waste a single moment that remains."

Yet, I wonder what real difference it makes how we live, how long we live, or what we accomplish during our lives. Whether we live one year or a hundred, it's still a cosmic eyeblink of time. And whether we die in total obscurity or are known by every human being on Earth, we can't, so far as I know, take our fame with us to the nothingness beyond this life. So, what's the point of it all?

There is no point, that I can see, other than what we create for ourselves from our imaginations. No one and no thing outside ourselves bindingly commands us to be or do anything. But if we choose for ourselves what meaning and purpose pervades our lives and what we're going to be and do with our cosmic eyeblink, I suppose that we can do worse than to hold up models such as Tim Russert to emulate in our own way. And we can follow the advice of the great sages. Not because of who said it, but because it resonates with our deepest being. Some of the best advice I've ever heard came from St. Augustine when he said, "Love, and do what you will."

That's what I hope to do more of during what's left of my cosmic eyeblink.

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