Thursday, March 4, 2010

To an Athlete Dying Young

So, I'm watching a show about John Lennon's assassination. They showed a few clips of some fans that are totally incapacitated due to grief for the loss of their favorite musician. At first glance, I think this is kind of weird that people get so emotional over a celebrity's death- someone they've never met before. But, I think that even when someone isn't physically in our life, they can still play an important enough role to elicit grief. One of these examples is Heath Ledger. I was never a die-hard Heath Ledger fan. I think he was a good actor, but that's about it, I never followed his career or anything. And yet, even today, when I see a clip of something on t.v. about him, I kind of feel a pang of sadness about him being gone. It's kind of surreal because seeing his image on t.v., it doesn't seem like he should be dead; he's still fairly relevant in pop culture. But he's dead. And it's kind of a shame, and I think that every time I see him on t.v.

But then sometimes I think death immortalizes people so much, and if they had lived out their life, would they be the angels we make them out to be? The answer is clearly no. I mean, MLK was an amazing man and did a lot of great things for the human race. But if he'd lived long enough, would he be considered too radical? Would he have said something totally outrageous? Would he be the stuff legends are made of?

Or if JFK or heck, even JFK Jr. had lived long enough, would they have had secret lives and all sorts of scandal to scar their image? Would JFK Jr. cheated on his wife? Would he be the John Edwards of today? I know, these things seem like sacrilege to some, and obviously it's all unsupported speculation. There's no evidence that JFK Jr. would've been a bad person. But if they hadn't died young, would we still feel the same way?

There's a poem by A.E. Housman called, To an Athlete Dying Young. It basically talks about the town's star athlete who dies in the height of his success. The author states "smart lad, to slip betimes away, from fields where glory does not stay". In essence, he died during his success, so he was forever immortalized in the last memory of him- as a star athlete. But if he'd lived to become fat, bald, ugly, poor, old, etc, his image would've vastly changed. So the author says, it's better to die in your prime than to be remembered as the bed wetting invalid geriatric.

What do you think? Is it better to die young in your prime, or live a long life and maybe be a little humble?

In my opinion, I'd rather live a long life than one focused on how people will remember me. Yea, I want people to remember me as a good person, but I also don't live my life to impress or please other people. I've never really been super exceptional at anything anyways, so it's not like I'm failing anyone, hahah.

1 comment:

The Boob Nazi said...

Old and humbled! (And in my sleep)