Cooler than the other side of the pillow.
Just call him butter, ‘cuz he’s on a roll.
All words, right? Just words.
Well, no. Not really. For although yes they are obviously words, they also were — to me — inspiration, passion and humor. Rhetorical magic, really.
They helped define a part of my relationship with my dad — putting the humorous icing on the father-and-son relationship cake that, in retrospect, mattered so much. They also helped inspire me to love language and to appreciate the power of how what we say impacts others.
The “they” to which I refer is also really a “he.” Oh, and he just died.
He was (is) Stuart Scott, the ESPN anchor and purveyor of such memorable catchphrases who just lost his battle with cancer, and we are all the poorer for his passing. At least at first, it seems.
But too, for those of us who look at and take lessons from how he lived his life, maybe we’re all the richer for it, for him. For Scott provided the textbook example of squeezing the right kind of juice out of life. Stuart Scott is that guy who made the lemonade. And, because of how well he did that, he is worth studying.
Trust me: there are few celebrities for whom I’d recommend taking life clues as worthy examples to emulate. This guy is different.
Of course, he had his detractors. People who don’t like funny. People who don’t like insightful. People who don’t appreciate the meaningful creativity that crashes existing norms. People who are intimidated (rather than impressed) by razor-sharp wit and passion.
Poor people, those.
For some reason, I’ve recently been focused on death and those who’ve died. Maybe it’s because I’m at the age now where I’ve seen so many deaths of my friends’ fathers plastered all over Facebook, including my own father’s.
Maybe it’s because — as a first-time (and older) father myself — I’m thinking more so in terms of my own longevity so as to be around as long as possible for my wife and little ones.
Regardless of the reason why this has been so much on my mind lately, what’s really caught my attention is the take on life from people who’ve faced death — including and especially Scott — and, more importantly, what we can take from that heightened perspective.
How can they, like Stuart Scott, see life’s delicious beauty in so many things we all take as typical? Their life-lenses just seem to be channeling high-def, when, it seems, so many of the rest of us are — too much of the time — running on some snowy, monotone-voiced, bad-antennaed UHF feed.
Why can’t we tap into that passion, drive and hyper-sensitivity to embrace life’s daily bouquet of extreme goodness just begging us to accept it — without going through, say, a near-death experience, being diagnosed with a terminal illness or experiencing some other tragic event?
I get it. We’re all busy. We’ve got ourselves and significant others to keep happy, paychecks to earn, Starbucks to drink, socializing to do, soccer shuttles to chauffeur, crossword puzzles to complete and milk to buy.
All part of life’s daily fabric, right?
But isn’t there a way to experience life (more often than we currently do) in context of what it really is: an amazing day-by-day treasure trove of unmitigated preciousness.
Are you still fighting with that distant cousin? Still carrying around a low- (or high)-level of anger against your ex? When you look back on your life, will the negativity and worry really be worth it all? Does it improve your life? Do those things that we pay such a heavy price in terms of time, energy and burdensome emotion ever really happen anyway?
The answer is “no, they really don’t.” Or, at least, they don’t have to — not as much as we often choose to let them.
The self-evident proof is that the emotional juice gained from that stifling approach just isn’t worth the squeeze. Remember, as we go through the day-to-day, we have no choice but to spend energy positively or negatively, right? Creatively or mundanely, right?
Life — for pretty much everyone reading this — is easy; people make it hard. But here’s the great news: it’s all about the choices we make.
It always has been.
Scott had choices in his words. Those words — and not just his hall-of-broadcaster-fame catchphrases — are, if you’re truly willing to listen, so inspiring.
Don’t believe me? Just listen to them then, even in the face of death: Fighting was winning. He also said: When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live. So live, live! Fight like hell. And, when you get too tired to fight, then lay down, and rest, and let somebody else fight for you.
Regardless of how good or bad Stuart Scott’s life actually was, it’s over. No more chance to experience earthly life in such a zealously appreciative way. A way in which even, say, the smell of summer’s first freshly cut lawn, the sound of a perfectly swatted golf shot – or in Miley Cyrus’ case, those first 10 tequila slammers – would feel. Gone. No more.
Gone for him. But not gone for you. Now go make that realization mean something.
- Call him car wash, ‘cuz he’s automatic.
- Got more flavor than Kool-Aid and cocoa.
- He must be the bus driver, ‘cuz he was taking him to school.
But then — assuming you are inspired and knowing you didn’t have to experience the pain of a life-threatening illness — live. Live! Fight like hell.
And, in the process, find your own Boo Yah.