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Monday, July 10, 2006


Life is a precious gift

Life is full of coincidences, good and bad. This is one of the bad ones. Just a few hours after posting the item below, noting the deaths of some Iraqi and Palestinian children, I was out on an early evening run in the hills above Silicon Valley. Rounding the final downhill corner, there in the parking lot were two ambulances and a body, covered by a blue sheet. A young woman (the victim's wife?) was wailing unconsolably; the death, which appears to have been a heart attack, had obviously just happened. It's possible, even likely, that this was one of the cyclists whom I had passed on the trail during my run just minutes earlier.

Now I don't want to scare anyone who might know me, but death seems to follow me around. Just one week less than a year ago today, another person died less than a hundred yards away from this one, again while I was running there. Nor are my encounters with death limited to this one preserve. A few years ago, I was at Nevada Falls in Yosemite when someone slipped into the pool above the falls and died. I watched a surfer drown at Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu. And there was another one in there somewhere. It's enough to shake a guy up.

Which brings me to the point. Life is a precious gift. It doesn't matter whether you think it's a gift from God, or a gift from Mother Nature, or the statistically probably outcome of Brownian motion in the primordial soup, it's still a precious gift. And for me, that means two things. One is to appreciate my own, every day. Appreciate the sound or sight of a bird, or the smile of a friend, or a beautiful sunset, or, not to slight inanimate objects, a good song or a good movie. Because, just as it did for the unfortunate young man today, or the others whose deaths momentarily shook me as I watched them happen, life can end suddenly, and prematurely.

And the second meaning for me is embodied in the post below this one. Just as I value my own life, so too I recognize the tragedy of so many lives cut short, whether they be identifiable ones like the ones below, or the nameless 12,000 children per day who die of starvation that I posted about not long ago. And so I pledge to continue to fight on their behalf, so that they, like I, can have every day possible to enjoy the precious gift they received at birth.

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