I was inspired by the events of this week and I wrote the following:
A Tribute to Mandela and Walker and so many others.
“Three weeks from now, I will be harvesting my crops. Imagine where you will be, and it will be so. Hold the line! Stay with me! If you find yourself alone, riding in the green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are in Elysium, and you’re already dead!
Brothers, what we do in life.. echoes in eternity.” – Maximus Decimus Meridius (Gladiator, 2000)
Gladiator has always been, and is likely to always be one of my favourite films ever. There have been few roles in which Russell Crowe was more compelling than that, and he’s quite a compelling actor. The film was full of morals, lessons, highs and lows and for me is one of the best simultaneous examples of film making and life coaching. To some it was just an epic action movie, but to me, it was much more. It helped teach me more about death and the strength of life and the way you live your life.
This week, two completely different but still similar men departed this life, and I’d like to talk about them both.
When I was 7 years old, Mandela was released from prison. I remember being in my primary school class running around chanting “Free Mandela”, much to the amusement of my classmates and the annoyance of my teacher who had come back to witness my unruly behavior. I had no idea what I was chanting about, perhaps I just felt like kicking up a fuss and having myself a time. But maybe subconsciously I was celebrating his release because a new era of change and self-determination was coming to Africa, and indeed the world.
“It is never my custom to use words lightly. If twenty-seven years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die.” – Nelson Mandela, 2000
I really am not sure I will be able to properly appreciate what Nelson Mandela did for this world, at least not yet, but his shining example cannot be denied. He was not a perfect man, but his hallmark was that he never gave up and never stopped trying to better the life of his fellow man.
Similarly, Paul Walker truly was more than just a pretty face. It was only upon news of his death that I found out that he was also quite the humanitarian and was quite a generous and caring person. He left behind a daughter who he apparently ignored for the first thirteen years of her life, but spent the next two trying to make up for it. He was a multi-talented, multi-faceted man with a variety of interests and passions and one that lived a life that many might do well to emulate.
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Nelson Mandela
Walker died being worth tens of millions of dollars, Mandela, not so much. Upon hearing of Mandela’s death, I thought to myself, “Paul Walker could not have left this earth in better company”. Paul died at 40, less than half of Mandela’s life, thirteen years more than his imprisonment. Their lives could not have been anymore different, as dictated by circumstances that they were born into. The efforts of Mandela probably influenced and impacted Walker in more ways than he may have even realized. Mandela lived through wars, rise and fall of nations, political upheaval, civil rights movements, industrialization of nations and countless more world events. He walked and talked a life that most of us can only ever dream of and I am proud that he came to us as an African.
Death is our neighbor, it is near us, always around us, and waiting for us. Death is for certain, it will come for all of us, there’s no getting around that. It doesn’t mean you have to live in fear of it though, you just have to recognize that it is there. Let death give your life meaning. Let the understanding that we all have our time to go, give your time on this earth the purpose it should have and live a life worth living. We need to never forget to try our best everyday and to remember that we should always try to love our neighbor as we do ourselves.
And indeed let us not forget our neighbors and remember the lives of many who have passed recently who do not happen to have the benefit of a famous name. I remember them with this my favorite of poems/quotes below:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
– John Donne
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela
“And we have lost one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth. He no longer belongs to us – he belongs to the ages.” – Barack Obama on Nelson Mandela following his death
So live your lives well friends. Live well and make your positive mark on history, for what we do in life, echoes in eternity.