It has been nearly four weeks since Princess Diana's untimely death in a Paris tunnel. Since then the worldwide media has churned out a constant flow of information about Di, Dodi, the drunk drive, the paparazzi, and the lack of emotion within the House of Windsor. Assuming that you are like me approaching saturation with the coverage of this tragic accident--I would like to have the final word on this news story. I don't want to join the finger-pointers or add my thoughts about whether we should legislate against the paparazzi. Nor will I enter into the discussion on the life expectancy of the British monarchy, as intriguing as it might be.
What troubled me about Di's death, aside from the obvious loss of a popular and much photographed person and a mother of two young boys, is that I have had to address the transient nature of my own life. Tragedies strike the beautiful and the average-looking alike. That morbid truth is one of the most disquieting aspects of Diana's demise. As we shed our tears for Di, we cry as well for our own vulnerability. If tragedy can cut down someone of her stature, what about us--the less statuesque, the less photogenic, and the less attractive--the rest of us?
The doomed Mercedes' impact with that Paris tunnel drove home with similar momentum our own life's precariousness. We do live in a world that often isn't fair or even rational. Every generation is reminded of this truth as the heroes of their age perish. It seems necessary for the world to be reminded of this truth every generation. My generation learned this lesson over thirty years ago with John Kennedy's senseless death.
We in the affluent Western world sometimes try to mask our vulnerability by surrounding ourselves with things. Nonetheless, we cannot escape from the truth with which we are wrestling; it is a global reality. Death will strike us all down. How many other mothers with children that needed them died in senseless accidents that very day Diana died? Or how many lovers died due to acts of wars and terrorism? Surely, all too many.
It is unnerving to me to be forced again to acknowledge the truth that my life hangs by a string. I realize that money, education, good-heartedness, and dreams can't reinforce that tenuous thread. Nothing can add sufficient strength to that thread to assure our proverbial three score and ten. Indeed, senselessness calamities can strike down any of us without reference to our social station or anything else.
There are still other lessons to be learned from the death of the Princess of Wales: don't drink and drive, drive defensively, and wear your seat belts. According to the news reports, the Labor Day death toll dropped significantly the weekend that Diana died. Perhaps, we were driving more safely because of that accident in Paris. However, unless we make a conscious effort to remember these lessons, we will return to our indifference to safe driving.
The final lesson to be learned from last month's tragedy is to take advantage of the life that we do have. Take note of the seasonal charges in nature and enjoy family and friends. Princess Diana's death reminds each of us that our own lives will end too soon. It would be a compounded tragedy to have to leave this life without having truly lived it to the fullest. We can't control many of the hazards of life that threaten our existence, but we do have some influence over the way we journey through it. Getting the most from the days of our lives isn't so much in the amassing of a large numbers of days as it is in the manner we utilize the limited numbers of days that we do have.
Nothing we do can bring life back to a princess that was so full of life. However, we can breathe back into our own lives a sense of urgency about life. By appreciating that priceless gift, we can truly live life to the fullest now.
This article flrst appeared in the Dixon Telegraph