In the blink of an eye...
Almost all of my editorial efforts in the past have contained some theme that was not only technical in nature, but for the most part TPF related. Most have been serious in that I've tried to drive home a specific point about things that should (or should not) be happening in the TPF community. Others have had a humorous approach, but have also been concerned with the technology, or the people involved with the technology. This time around I would like to talk about something a bit more philosophical, and a whole lot more important.
As you read this editorial, stop for a second and take a look around you. You might be sitting in your office, or at your kitchen table, or (forgive the intrusion) on the commode. Think about where you are, what you were doing just 5 minutes ago, and what you'll be doing 5 minutes from now. Who did you last speak to? What was the last phone call you made? What's the first thing you plan to do when you finish reading this editorial? And now you're dead. Forget how it happened, or for that matter why it happened. You don't exist any more. It's over, it's final, and you're dead. No opportunity to say good-by. No chance for a last hug or kiss from your husband, your wife, the kids, the parents. No feelings of guilt or remorse... there wasn't any time. One second you're here, and the next second you're not.
The past few weeks have been sobering for many of us. While the bombing in Oklahoma City has probably had the greatest impact on most of us, there have been other occurrences and reminders recently which carry equal if not greater weight. The thousands massacred in Rwanda. The anniversary of the fall of Saigon and subsequent end of the Viet Nam conflict. The anniversary of the holocaust in Europe during the second world war. The numbers are not the issue. What matter if it's hundreds, thousands, millions, or only one. The numbers mean nothing if you or one of "yours" happen to be included in the count.
Forget the S.O.B that bombed the Federal building. Forget the soldiers who were only following orders. Forget the fanatics releasing poison gas in crowded subways. Forget the "poor victim of society" who shoots the local convenience store clerk. The issue here is not the beliefs or the politics or the problems of the perpetrators. The issue here is existence, and the frightening lack of control we have over it. When the initial shock wears off, and you realize that it can happen to you (and it can happen at any time), it becomes time to reassess one's values.
As I get older (and hopefully wiser), my priorities and opinions about what's important and what's not important have certainly changed. Watching the body count rise with every broadcast of the evening news puts things in a very different perspective. I suddenly have a greater appreciation for some of the things in life I've always managed to take for granted, and I'm sure that many of you have experienced similar feelings. There's an old saying that "every cloud has a silver lining". If the tragedy in Oklahoma City is to have any purpose, I believe that something positive has to come out of the shock and the sorrow. And that's where you come in.
Take a good look at yourself in the mirror. Seriously, go stand in front of a mirror and just look at yourself for a few minutes. Think about what you've accomplished so far, and where you are on your own scale of personal goals and expectations. What ever happened to that trip you'd always said you would take? What about that best-seller you were going to write? Or how about those plans to go back to school, or that business you were going to start? I don't know what your dreams are, but you do. And don't kid yourself about having the time to do the things you really want to do in life. Maybe you will, and maybe you won't. Think about the friends you've lost touch with, the relatives you haven't seen in years, old classmates, first loves. Do I have to make myself any clearer?
We've all fallen short of goals in our lives, and we've all set aside a few dreams. Why not pick one thing on your list and just do it? Go write that book, or go make that phone call, or go buy that "toy", or whatever turns you on... but decide what you want to do, and get it done. And when you've accomplished that, go on to the next thing on your list. If Oklahoma City has taught me anything, it's taught me that while we don't have any control over death, we have a great deal of control over life. So exercise some of that control, and treat yourself to a little happiness. I promise, you won't regret it one bit.