Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Fickle Hand of Fate

A close friend lost her eighteen year old son in a brawl when an opponent pulled out a knife and severed the beloved's life force. After this tragic event, her perspective changed radically. If I referred to any event that was more than one minute into the future, she would raise her pointer finger to the heavens and say, "God willing." Because after all, we really don't know when it will be our last out breath. She had learned that lesson ever so painfully.

Yesterday, the great news correspondent Bob Simon was killed in a car crash on New York City's Westside Highway, a route I took regularly from my suburban house into the city as a teenager and young woman. He was known for his courage as a war correspondent; even captured and tortured for 40 days by Sadam Hussein's troops during the Gulf War. That he would die in the supposed safety of a chauffered Lincoln town car seems insane - but true.

His ending reminds me of yet another bizarre twist of fate. A wonderful 85 year old Tibetan lama, Lobsang Lalungpa, had grown up in old Tibet, escaped over the Himalayas when the Chinese invaded, and suffered enormous hardships as a refugee in Asia until finally settling in the US. This great soul had found a peaceful life in Sante Fe, and was out one balmy evening walking with his wife when a drunk driver's car jumped the sidewalk and killed him.

If there was ever a case for enjoying the here and now, and not getting lost in dreams (good or bad) these examples are a case in point, but not only in regards to our own mortality. If we really could comprehend the fragility of life, would we argue about trivial matters with family, friends and strangers? Would we stew over slights to our ego, or the horrors of certain places on earth? Even those who survive concentration camps and genocides are the ones capable of holding a positive vision, incredulous as that may be.

If any one of us is full of self-pity today - or anger - or mundane grumpiness - let's take a collective deep breath and thank the All-That-Is for this moment of life.

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