Two thousand eight has started well for me, as years go. Lots of work to do — interesting work too. I’ve a least little time each week to spend with family and friends, the weather has been mellow, I’m feeling healthy…. Things are good.
Yet I keep feeling that I’m surrounded by images of death. The 22-year-old daughter of friends is killed, apparently by her boyfriend. A close family friend is hospitalized with a brain hemorrage, and her children are told to fly home to say goodbye. The next selection for my book group is The Gathering, a novel that centers on the funeral of a young Irish man who committed suicide. I buy a book of essays (Best American Essays 2006), and most of them seem to deal with death of a loved one.
Yesterday, I heard that Heath Ledger had died. I’ve always liked Ledger’s acting, and I’m looking forward to The Dark Knight, but I’ve never been a starstruck fan. All the same, the news of his death hit me hard. It seemed like yet another example of this month, this year, being all about death and dying.
Of course I realize that there’s nothing to this perceived trend. There’s just as much life around me as death. For some reason, my brain has become stuck in a mode of noticing death, putting extra emphasis on it. It’s a self-fulfilling cycle, and it’s bringing me down.
But I have decided to get out of this mental rut, to focus on life and the living. As my model, I look to Abe Vigoda. He’s a fine character actor, but more importantly, he’s still alive.
Mr. Vigoda was erroneously reported to be dead in 1982 by People magazine. Since then, his continued existence has been a source of humor.
But for me, he’s now also a symbol of continued perseverence and on-going life force. Go, Fish!