The Great Equalizer

As this recent New York Times article poignantly illustrates, Horace Mann was wrong, education is not the great equalizer of men. Or women.

As always at the end of the year, most major newspapers list the most newsworthy deaths of the calendar year. Some provide a few paragraphs about each person. The “newsworthy deaths” compilations are a nice reminder that death is the great equalizer. Of men and women. The rich and poor. Hawk and dove. Religious and secular. Well known and anonymous. Prepared and unprepared.

I imagine most people who read those “famous deaths” compilations think to themselves, “Wow, a lot of famous people died this year.” That’s the thing about death, it’s kind of consistent. A lot of famous people die every year. In the United States, in 2013, someone will be born every 8 seconds and die every 12 seconds.

Poor form I know, but I can’t help but wonder if the comrades—Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro—will feature prominently in next year’s “famous deaths” lists. And what about Mugabe, Bush Sr, and Mandela, all quite skilled at postponing the great equalizer. Will they make it to 2014?

More importantly, will you and I make it to 2014? Psychologist Russ Harris suggests a simple exercise for being more conscious of The Great Equalizer (as described in The Antidote: Happiness for those Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking). Imagine you are eighty years old—assuming you’re not eighty already, that is; if you are, you’ll have to pick an older age—and then complete the sentences “I wish I’d spent more time on. . . ” and “I wish I’d spent less time on. . .”

Whatever your age, that wonderfully simple exercise will improve your chances of reaching death having lived life as fully and as deeply as possible.

I hope this isn’t your year or my year, but just in case, let’s live it like it could be.

Thank you for making time to read my writing this year. Peace to you and yours.

Avatar versus Invictus

Invictus because I’m not a sci fi guy. Friends were raving about the new Star Trek on a run recently. I don’t think I’ve ever sat through a whole episode. I’m definitely a non-fiction guy. That being said, I enjoyed Avatar, I just have a hard time giving into the notion of aliens. Of course the special effects were on a whole new level and even I followed the storyline. My take away, don’t mix business and pleasure.

I followed South Africa closely in the mid/late 80’s and really enjoyed Invictus because it mixed three of my interests, Africa, politics, and sports. I was left wondering how true to actual events it was. Afterwards, I did a little internet research and found an article from a British periodical that suggested not very. However, when I read that piece I had to chuckle. In my opinion, the journalist was quibbling with minutiae. It’s amazing Mandela, 91, has lived as long as he has, especially given conditions on Robben Island.

My suggestion, go crazy and see both.