The last two-and-a-bit weeks have seen some notable death and misery.
We've all heard about Nelson Mandela passing away and we have seen the outpouring of admiration, love and praise by everyone from world leaders and statesmen to those who never met the giant among men. At 95, he had lived a long life, but by virtue of what he achieved, he lived a full life. He was not perfect, as no person is, and as we have seen the family around him is not perfect, just as none of our families are. The legacy he leaves is staggering and I pray that in the perceived vacuum it will not be undone.
A world leader who made the difference between bloodshed and calm, who did not let bitterness rule him, has passed.
Over in Santa Clarita, California, we saw, not so much an icon of the big screen, but one of it’s more noticeable characters pass away at age 40. Paul Walker’s death was very opposite to Mandela’s. It even seems incongruous to mention the two men in the same sentence, and yet, here was a life lost (and let us not forget Roger Rodas, the driver of the car) which will impact many. The immature immediately wondered how the Fast and the Furious franchise will continue, hopefully the more mature would consider that a 15 year-old girl lost her father, parents and siblings lost a son and brother. Walker had been considering taking a break from acting to spend more time with his daughter. This will now not happen, and the families of Walker and Rodas will have to put back together their lives in a way they would not have dreamed of prior to that fiery car crash on 30 Nov 2013. Rodas leaves behind an 8 year old son.
Very few people know what day they are going to die.
The 9 who died when a police helicopter crashed into the Clutha Bar in Glasgow on 29 November did not know they were going to die that night. Another night out at the pub, and another police surveillance flight for the three on board. The most prosaic of things to be doing in Britain on a Friday night, and it was the last thing these people did. A 10th person has died since the accident.
Pretty morbid stuff just before Christmas, isn't it?
Mandela died on his death bed, we all knew it was coming. He will be missed. He is a world icon.
Walker did not know that within a short time after jumping into that car, he would be dead, life snuffed out in no time at all.
The 10 who died at Clutha, not world famous, not doing anything silly. Their families too, must make a new way forward.
So what do we take from this? Observing this pain of death does help us learn.
Live expansively, and forgivingly, like Mandela.
As much as I love fast cars, don’t do stupid things with them. Make the best decisions you can.
Be aware that your life is fragile and it can disappear at any time.