How Close We All Are

The thoughts in this post are going to be incredibly obvious to everyone, but they’re on my mind a lot lately.

The thoughts are about death.

You should know I’m extremely worried all the time about someone I love dying. My wife jokes that I’m the FSM (Family Safety Monitor), but that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of my paranoia. I see life like a Final Destination movie, with every object in my kids’ proximity taking on ridiculously sinister overtones (“Well, I KNOW that the printer itself isn’t dangerous, but what about that ink cartridge? If my two-year-old should somehow disengage that and put it in her mouth, it could not only present a choking hazard, it could break open and release dangerous toxins!”). It’s where my OCD nature and intrusive thoughts couple in an unholy union with my love for my family; what is spawned is a neverending state of terror and preemptive disaster aversion.

Yeah, I’ve got problems.

My Lens
My Lens

So today an actor named Paul Walker died. I was at a piano/voice recital for part of the day and working on one of my current works-in-progress for the rest of it, so I only got to check Facebook and Twitter once. What I saw can be distilled into two groups of thoughts:

Group A: “R.I.P. Paul Walker. You were gone too soon.”

Group B: “Who the hell cares about some stupid actor? Jeez, you’d think people would get a life and stop acting like they knew him! LOLOLOLOL”

My stomach sinking, I went to the Horror Drive-In and saw, among the threads, a posting about a writer named Joel Lane who passed away this week. Thankfully, every thought on the HD-I was sensitive and heartfelt. That made me feel a little better about humanity. Because the people on there cared about this author, beyond the fact that he was a really gifted writer. They cared about the person. Which is the way it should be. Those of you who are horror fans know that this has been a brutal year for losing writers. I won’t list all of them here for fear of missing someone, but it goes without saying that all of them will be missed. It goes without saying that we feel deeply sad for their loved ones.

The Earth Wire and Other Stories, by Joel Lane
The Earth Wire and Other Stories, by Joel Lane

Or at least it should go without saying.

Just like it should go without saying that an actor passing away is a sad thing. I don’t care if you didn’t like his movies. I don’t care if you don’t understand why some people would find his passing sad. What I do care about is the insensitivity of people who mock others for caring.

Don’t you all realize how close to death we all are?

Don’t you realize that you could have died a dozen times over if things had gone differently in your life and in the lives around you? If a single part of your body doesn’t do its job for a fleeting moment, you could die. Did you know that? Did you know that if the guy behind you had stopped texting a moment later than he did, he might have rear-ended your car and killed you or your loved ones just this afternoon? Don’t you understand how incredibly precious and fragile life is and that some of the biggest mistakes we can make are to a) not appreciate it or b) deride those who do?

It might surprise some of you to find out I’m a spiritual person. I don’t talk about it as much as I should because I’m frankly embarrassed at the smarmy, exclusionary attitudes of many people who claim to be religious and who, in actuality, treat faith as some sort of country club rather than a means of loving others and cherishing life. I mention my spirituality because I’m going to use a word below that holds a great deal of meaning to me. But don’t worry, you don’t have to be spiritual to use and appreciate the word. I promise you that I don’t see myself as any better in any way than any of you, whether you’re spiritual or not.

Perpetrator of the Country Club Mentality
Perpetrator of the Country Club Mentality

So what is the word?

Thankful. I am so incredibly, unceasingly thankful for every moment I get to spend with my family, for every instant I get to be alive, for every visit I get to have with my eighty-eight year-old grandparents, for every wrestle I get to have with my three small children. I’m thankful for every kiss I’m able to give my wife, and I’m thankful for every keystroke I get to type.

And I’m sorry for the actor who died today, just as I’m sorry for the writers we’ve lost too soon. I’m sorry for their families, and I wish I could take away their suffering. But I’m thankful for everybody who cares about others and for everyone who realizes just how close we all are to not having this amazing opportunity.

And I hope those who make fun of people who care about others and appreciate life wake the hell up before their time is up. Because they, too, are very close to death. We all are.

That’s all. Sorry for my incoherence, and sorry for any offense I’ve given. Let’s love, people. Let’s laugh together and smile and appreciate.

Let’s be thankful.

Good night.

Gone Too Soon
Gone Too Soon


9 thoughts on “How Close We All Are

  1. Great piece, man. Being a religious guy as well, I love your ‘thankful for every moment’ bit.
    I’m in the non-Paul Walker “th eactor” fan club. I’m not real familiar with his work, but mourn any human life lost, especially someone who gave as much as Mr. Walker did. I read about a lot of charity work he was involved in. Sounded like a better man than actor.
    In the end, it is sad that reckless driving played apart in his demise. We all have some foolish habits/hobbies, and I guess it is events like Mr. Walker’s that make us take a second look at what we have, and what we have to lose.


    1. Thank you, Glenn. It does sound like Mr. Walker was a good person. The only movie of his I ever watched was Joyride, which I really enjoyed. But his passing is very sad indeed. Thanks again, Glenn, and well said on your part too.


  2. We should be thankful for every minute we get to spend on earth and with our loved ones. I agree that it shouldn’t matter whether you like a person’s movies or not – they are still people and as a society we need to grab onto our humanity and hold onto it.


  3. I first read this when I was on my phone, so didn’t comment at the time. I can completely relate to your role as the FSM. I’m the same way. I am most easily triggered by winter driving situations, but I can instantly see the inherent risk in an any situation.

    This is a really good piece. I’m glad someone wrote it.


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