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Thursday, December 29, 2016

I Found My Keys

After not finding them for nearly an hour. Bob Denver ("Gilligan") died, as well as Debbie Reynolds, (Singing In The Rain) mourning her daughter Carrie Fisher who died, as I'm sure you heard. Every day is a mix of triumph and tragedy, with mostly tragedy, or so it seems.

But I found my keys.

I told a friend yesterday that the transient pleasures of this life will never be enough, and that's surely true, no? We're crying more as a culture, because we can't hide the emptiness anymore. It might be mawkish and shallow, but it's a start.

And I found my keys.

My favorite coat now is a gift from a friend, and it belonged to his cousin, who died suddenly. I only know of him from a few stories. There is likely nothing I could say to understand what he was like. How do you summarize a life?

But I bet he'd be glad I found my keys.

And of course it's a metaphor; you really shouldn't leave home without your keys. You can't have thieves breaking in, stealing your treasure. Even if you did, you'd be worried all day. You'd come back and immediately inventory everything. Your keys unlock the doors to places that hold the most important things (and people).

It's good to find your keys, your purpose. But also to take an inventory. What matters? What have I held on to? Is it worth treasuring? When sorrow, disease, and death come, do I still know what it's all about?

On Celebrity Deaths

I do suppose there is something to be said for celebrity worship being the tendency of a decadent and dying society. You'll get no shortage of pieces making that point, and there's truth there. But before we choke on our moralistic alleged detachment, we may consider a few things.

These are real people, actually made and loved by God. No matter what they've done, it's still true. The flip side of worship is actually envy. People seem to think that because they have money and fame, we are entitled to say whatever we like, to mock and demean them for things we don't like. There must be a great love of money or self, in order to accept this.

In another way, we overlook the possibility technology affords to expand friendship. I never met Dale Earnhardt or Robin Williams. But their talent and nearness through the gift of technology creates a bond of friendship, however small, that requires acknowledgment.

I recall that Dr. Alan Noble wrote about the difficulty many felt when Kevin Durant, one of the best basketball players on the planet, left his original team and community to play for another team. Instead of saying that people ought not feel betrayed and whatever else, perhaps we should say that the economic realities are not conducive to the bond of friendship. Pro sports leagues and teams are not averse to fostering those emotional bonds, when it serves them. Shared experience and goals create meaning.

I for one don't blame people for attempting to find meaning in people they have never met. We have worked so hard to destroy the things that make for friendship and community that we'll take anything, no matter how remote.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

George Michael, 1963-2016

I'm probably not anywhere close to the biggest George Michael fan, but his music was in my ears when I started to listen to music. I have appreciated so many songs, and some especially so, that I do feel I have lost a friend.

I will never forget seeing the footage of him standing next to Elton John and I think Sting, as they sang "The Lord Is My Shepherd" at the funeral for Diana, Princess of Wales. As incongruous as it may have seemed to see two of Britain's gay icons in that moment, it was far from unwelcome.

What can I say? I really believe I could see underneath all the burdens weighing him down. His troubles aren't hard to find. But I wish we'd met. He'd have at least one person who didn't want anything from him.

It does console me to hear the stories of his great but unheralded generosity, whether a college student who got a tip worth thousands of dollars to pay a debt, or kids with cancer. I know natural virtue is just that, but who knows? One of those people could have been Jesus in disguise.

As I was telling a friend right before I heard the sad news, I pray for him. No reason to stop now. This is how I want to remember him.