Friday, February 19, 2010

Roger Ebert

This wonderful look at the life of Roger Ebert caught my attention. What I find most amazing is that a man who has endured so much pain can still find so much joy in life.

Because he can no longer speak, he writes notes on scraps of paper or has his computer speak his words. What is interesting is the effect on his anger. He will still become angry, but the moment passes him more quickly because of the effort required to communicate it. Perhaps there is wisdom in counting to ten before releasing our anger, as it may really evaporate more often than not.

Also quite moving is the story of his relationship with Gene Siskel, his first television partner. He has spent considerable time in his online journal remembering Gene. They were opposites in many ways, argued much, but were connected somehow by a shared destiny. They were the best of friends until the day Gene Siskel died. While showing to an interviewer the journal entry containing a video of his first show after Gene's death, the video was unexpectedly reported deleted. This sent Ebert into a towering rage, typing on his computer the equivalent of "standing on the street corner ... arching his back and ... shouting at the top of his lungs." I have no doubt that whoever deleted the content received hell for it soon after.

Roger Ebert does not believe in any afterlife. He knows that he is "dying in increments." But he goes on living and working and enjoying what is left of his life.

I do believe in the afterlife. This will not stop me from drawing a lesson from Roger Ebert's life:

My belief in a paradise after death should not stop me from "sucking the marrow" from the life I have on earth, no matter how good or bad my life becomes. This does not mean, "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we shall die." Rather, I should treat life as a precious gift and not let a moment go to waste in despair and despondency. "To despair is to turn one's back on God." It also wastes the gift of life.

Bonus: Here is a review of the Esquire article linked above. It records some of Ebert's reaction to the article. It seems to have been cathartic.

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