“To live is to depart on a journey, and the same holds for death”
2016 has been a rough year. So many greats have passed away this year and the list continues to grow even as the year runs close to an end.
The SHORT list: David Bowie, Alan Rickman (Harry Potter), Joe Alaskey (Voice Actor for Loonie Tunes), Maurice White (Earth, Wind & Fire), Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird), Malik Izaak Taylor (Phife Dawg), Joan Marie Laurer (Chyna), Prince, Billy Paul (Me & Mrs. Jones), Afeni Shakur, Muhammad Ali, Kimbo Slice, Pat Summitt (NCAA), Miss Cleo, Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka), Shawty Lo, Arnold Palmer (Golf), Tommy Ford (Tommy from Martin), Leonard Cohen (Hallelujah),Gwen Ifill (PBS’ Newshour), Florence Henderson (Brady Bunch), Fidel Castro, Alan Thicke (Growing Pains), Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Michael, Carrie Fisher (Star Wars), Debbie Reynold (Singing in the Rain), and MORE .
I could easily talk about the impact of every life on that list and what they offered to the world: clarity, entertainment, understanding, comfort, and inspiration. But, what makes them so memorable? What makes their death resonate with so many people who have never met them in their life? Why did the world cry when Prince or Florence Henderson died? Was it just a song? Was it a role? Was it the vulnerability in their art? The effort in their fight? What is the impact they left that changed lives?
Muhammad Ali had an amazing speech about the purpose of life. Check it out here. Ali has a bunch of amazing quotes here but the most poignant answer was that after he finishes boxing, he wanted to “Get Ready to Meet God” by helping as many people as possible. In my opinion, he was an amazing sportsman whose career could have been even greater if it wasn’t marred by politics. But what really made him the greatest was how he used his platform to change the world around him. Ali wanted to use his fame to make a difference and even until his death, he inspired millions.
So, I ask you, what is your journey? What path do you see ahead of you? If we truly have 16 meaningful years before death after sleep, travel, and work/school at 35; how will you use that time? How will you help people? Will you help people? What will you do?
I often think about people’s pursuit of money and how much time they waste working for someone else to make end’s meet. But, by then end of their life, many have nothing lasting that will save them and nothing they will be able to bring with them. I am not saying quit your jobs and become vagabonds. I am saying to prioritize things beyond work, sleep, food, and entertainment. What have you really accomplished with your time? What precious things would you leave behind?
My grandmother had numerous death scares before her passing last year. I asked her thoughts after her first incident. She replied, “God still has work for me yet. He still has me here for a reason.” I agree. She lived another five years and was able to cheer me on as I walked across the stage. She was there when I needed her there to push me forward. A few months later, her funeral was filled with friends that flew from all over the United States. These were people well older than her but held close to their memories of her, like precious jewels.
Ali had a funeral broadcasted to the world. Castro made a country weep. Monuments worldwide went purple following Prince’s homecoming. My grandmother drew in globetrotters and family together that haven’t seen each other in decades. Losing loved ones is hard, but it’s amazing seeing the effects they had on other’s lives. Sometimes I don’t see the tears of pain, but signs of precious jewels.
Which losses have affected you most this year? What do you see as precious jewels? How do you plan to spend your journey? Leave comments, questions, and thoughts below.