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Lupo's World ~ A Blog


The recent epidemic of sudden or sudden-appearing deaths among friends, acquaintances, fellow writers, and revered celebrities (of whom legendary film critic Roger Ebert is only the latest), has set off another bout of depressing thought patterns, self-doubt, and contemplation of mortality. As I approach a telling milestone in age (and the one you're thinking of I've already passed), I find myself once again nervously watching the sands running all too smoothly, all too quickly through the hourglass. I find myself once again questioning, wondering, criticizing… trying to understand just what it is I've done with my life.

We all do it, don't we? Come on, fess up. As you get older, don't you look around and see what you've built, check to see whether it'll withstand the passage of time and carry your name forward into the future? Of course, if you've had children, you can make a checkmark on the plus-list. If, like me, you haven't brought anyone into the world, then you have little choice but to look at what else you've done and, much more uncomfortably, what you might have done.

I've brought some words into the world, not all of them great or memorable, most of them probably not memorable, really, some bound up in covers and called books. Others called stories and articles and book reviews. Some of them are even good, maybe one or two I'd consider great by some arcane standard. Most are passable, worthy of a satisfied "huh!" and not much else. Some of the fiction may be briefly interesting, though memorable is probably a stretch. But ultimately, the dead-bottom assessment is that all of it might as well not exist, that its lack of being in the world would not be missed pretty much by anyone. Perhaps if movies and television had been birthed from it, there would be more of what one could self-servingly call a "legacy," but without this form of immortalization, it's safe to say the words I've put into order (even those that make some sense and evoke some emotion or response besides unintentional humor) are all rather pedestrian and disposable.

While others were out in the world helping fight hunger and disease, or building homes for refugees, or trying to stop wars and tribal conflicts, or handing out meals to the homeless, or trying to educate those starving for knowledge, or trying to keep kids safe from violence and drugs, or attempting to provide for humans in need… while all that was going on, what I chose to do with my life was to put some words together so they could be read and forgotten, disposed of, consumed. Maybe enjoyed, I hope they've been enjoyable. Maybe they've brought some small measure of happiness or pleasure, or a laugh, or a smirk and a curse, maybe they've disturbed and offended. All those responses are acceptable, even desirable, for a writer of what is essentially a luxury – a small modicum of fantasy in an increasingly negative, predatory, and uncaring world.

Upon hearing the news of Roger Ebert's death, something attributed to him found its way to me through Facebook or maybe Goodreads, I'm not sure, and gave me a way to perhaps look in a more positive light upon the choice of what I chose to do in life.

Roger Ebert wrote: “I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try.”

Well, I have tried, and I continue to try, and that is the best I can do. If entertaining others to distract them from the realities of their own lives is a noble pursuit, then at least I've nobly attempted to do so – no matter how narrow the audience or small the appreciation. And on wrap-up day, that'll have to be sufficient.

Thanks, Roger Ebert, for the many years of entertaining reviews. I remember the earliest days on local public television. I watched, on and off, for decades. When renting tapes became all the rage, I had two books to consult, Roger Ebert's and Leonard Maltin's. I usually went with Roger. As much as I liked both him and Siskel, I usually agreed with Roger (with some notable exceptions). And when I discovered him on-line, Roger's Facebook and Twitter feeds became routine must-reads. I loved checking out his New Yorker cartoon caption entries and comparing them with mine. And now he's given me something positive to latch onto. Farewell, Roger Ebert.

The balcony is closed.
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