“Better make the best of it, just in case your life turns out to be as short as an insect’s, she told herself.”
Friends, there are many days of the year which I look forward to. Thanksgiving, my birthday, Hanukkah, even Christmas, these are days that seem to take forever to arrive and are gone in an instant.
But friends, there are other days that take too long to arrive—Tuesdays. Not just any Tuesday, or every Tuesday, but specific Tuesdays. Why Tuesdays? Because Tuesdays are the days when new books are released. And when a new Michael Connelly or Jonathan Kellerman or Steve Martini or David Baldacci comes out, it is, in a way, a holiday for me—something to look forward to.
One of my favorite authors of all time, Michael Crichton, passed away in 2008 after battling cancer. You know him as the creator of the television show “ER” and author of “Jurassic Park,” “Disclosure,” and “Rising Sun” amongst others. He was a master at blending mystery, science, medicine, and social consciousness and his books were intriguing, refreshing, and thought provoking. And in 2008, when he died at the age of 66, I figured that there would be one less Tuesday to look forward to as his writing career was obviously over, and prematurely.
However, he left a bit of a legacy with unfinished manuscripts on his computer; one was published about two years ago, a swashbuckling pirate adventure (atypical compared to his other works) and one was released just last week, more in line with his previous works.
The quote set forth at the top of this email was taken from this latest publication entitled “Micro” and as I read the book it struck a chord, given the author’s unfortunate and tragic demise. “Micro” was incomplete at the time of Crichton’s death and required completion by another author, but of all of the sentences and paragraphs in the book, I will cling to the hope that this specific sentence was written by Crichton himself. If there are works out there that can be viewed as “messages,” can’t this be one of them?
I truly believe that our lives must be comprised of four ingredients for a full and complete life: health, family, religion, and experiences. But in today’s society and economic climate, it is easy to forego the last ingredient and pass it away with excuses. Sure we would like to visit Paris, but it is too expensive and we cannot miss work. If we continue to make these excuses, when will be the right time to do these things? I once heard the adage that if you wait for the right time to have children, you will never have children. Well, if you wait for the right time to go skydiving, then you will never go skydiving.
Lately I have seen and heard of too much sorrow and pain. It seems like there has been an epidemic of health problems, with many family members of friends faced with dire circumstances, some of which came on unexpectedly. While failing health is heartbreaking on its own, what is more tragic to me is failing health coupled with regret. Regret for not taking that trip, for not seeing that concert, for not having that experience. I think that when Crichton wrote the words above, he could see the end coming and was trying to speak to us. Sure, we all know about “Carpe Diem!” Yet it never really meant anything to me other than Latin words which meant to seize the day, however you interpret that. But for Crichton’s words, understanding the tragedy of his own death, you can practically envision an author sitting at his computer, seeing his days coming to an end, and trying to reach out to not just all of us, but maybe to himself as well.
I mean, come on, there is no secret that Crichton probably had plenty of money in the bank; his success was clear. But recall my ingredients above—money is not one of them. Experiences takes the place of money; it is more valuable than money for sure because it is something you can not only keep with you always, but you can pass it along in pictures, in stories, and in the recollections of the people with whom you share those experiences.
I have been incredibly lucky, having had some tremendous experiences in my life, traveling the world, seeing amazing and historic baseball games, and celebrating each and every holiday and special occasion with my family and friends. If you know my family and me, you know that we don’t collect items, we collect friends; friends who become part of our family. Friends who we share experiences with. Whether it is getting a group of 30 people together to see my brother’s new movie (go see “Puss In Boots!”) or trips to Las Vegas, or just game nights at home, it is each and every one of those experiences that shape our lives and make them full and enjoyable.
Not to say that my life is complete by any stretch of the imagination. I still have lots of things to do and experiences to have. But even if I don’t complete them, I won’t have any regrets. And I don’t want you to have any regrets either. Don’t wait until it is too late. Make the choice to have the experience. One of the things that we all hear a lot of is that someone will remember an experience for the rest of their lives. You’re damn right…