Tom Petty was celebrating the end of his 40th anniversary tour after the final sold out three-night stand at the Hollywood Bowl. Then a quiet evening at home. Then nothing. He’s gone. The novelist John Gregory Dunne sits down in his favorite chair and dies of a heart attack. His wife Joan Didion would later write about how “life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.” Just yesterday, somewhere, a young child didn’t wake up from their nap.
Marcus Aurelius wasn’t kidding when he said it: You can leave life right now. At 66. At 71. At 7. It can sneak up on you and take you without knowing it. It can cut you down and leave you bleeding painfully on the floor. It can take you on the eve of the most important day of your life. It can take you in celebration of your greatest accomplishment. It can take you in the middle of a shit.
Is this sad? Scary? Unfair? Yes, most certainly. But it is also the truth. So we must never forget it, never hide from it, never deny it. We must, as Marcus said, let the unavoidability of death determine what we do and say and think.
It can happen anytime. Hopefully it won’t, but it can. Be ready. Live while you can.
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