Just a thought… Life is precarious and life is precious. Don’t presume you will have it tomorrow, and don’t waste it today. [John Piper]
This won’t be a long one – I have about 77% on a dying battery and am not guaranteed a power supply on the plane.
I’ve many stories and observations to share with you after a whirlwind (almost) two weeks in Ontario but there was news of a death to which I had no real, personal connection that shook me yesterday as I’m sure it did many people.
For those who grew up or were in our younger years when a show called Beverly Hills, 90210 was a hit from 1990 to 2000, the ensemble cast members were as familiar to us as those of any show – surpassed perhaps only by the team on Friends. Luke Perry was the “bad boy” James Deanish brooding character who broke hearts and saved the day. I was past the age of having a crush on TV characters or actors (save a few more mature actors like George Clooney) but Luke Perry’s Dylan certainly did have his share of fans.
When we heard late last week that the actor had suffered a stroke, it was news taken (at least in our household) with some concern, but with a great big block of salt. After all, how many times have we heard from “news outlets” that a star was at death’s door, only to learn that they were alive and well? (That’s part of the reason I didn’t chime in with thoughts, prayers or anything else when I heard of Olivia Newton-John being on her proverbial death bed.)
You just don’t believe that stuff, especially when it’s about someone who’s not only in the midst of a career surge (a cast member on Riverdale, but he had apparently signed up for the upcoming reboot of 90210).
Yesterday, the worst news was not only confirmed – it was indeed a massive stroke – but that it had taken his life. He was 52 years old. As Toronto radio host John Moore put it, “And everyone my age is humbled by life.”
I get exactly what John was saying. Rob feels the same way when he hears of someone in their sixties dying. But here it is: we should all be humbled by life. Every single day. In our lives, the fact that a healthy 24-year-old can stop breathing – her heart simply stop – in the middle of the night should be enough for everyone just to take a moment and be grateful. For the heart that beats, the lungs that fill, the liver that functions and the brain that keeps us operating.
But the fact is, we don’t. We simply don’t treat our bodies as we should: we celebrate an hour at the gym three times a week when we should be active every single day. We drink or smoke (or both); we do things that if we had to look a doctor in the eye and tell her about it, we might wish to look away. I speak not for all of us but for myself and, I’m assuming, many of us.
A lot of us treat our bodies the way we should only when we’re carrying a baby. Then, we stop any risky behaviour, we give up our sins and reconsider everything from caffeine and artificial sweeteners to the more obvious poisons in alcohol and cigarettes. But why don’t we treat our bodies like that for our entire lives?
I’ve digressed here because, for all I know, none of this could apply to Luke Perry. The man who played Dylan McKay on TV could have lived a life of bean sprouts, marathons and meditation; I have no idea. All I know is that life is so damned precious that the death of someone we know – even if it’s just through the TV 20 years ago – is a reminder that there are no promises. A contract signed for a new series (even a reboot) is no guarantee you’ll be around when that season hits the airwaves.
It’s “just a celebrity,” but it’s a man’s life. It’s a death. It came on the 25th anniversary of John Candy’s passing and it all just hits home.
Life is humbling. Leave nothing unsaid, leave no love unspoken. Do the things you have wanted to do and leave nothing until the day you retire or you find the time.
The time is now and you are alive. Be humble.