Today, I am thankful for Heath Ledger (1979-2008).
Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.
~A. E. Housman (1896)
Whenever a young, talented person dies, I read A. E. Housman's poem, To An Athlete Dying Young. I first read the poem as a junior in high school. Housman tells of an athlete who dies at the peak of his greatness. In Housman's mind, the young man will live forever as a champion and hero. His youthful glory will never fade. He will never grow old or be forgotten like the rest of us.
Today, I read the poem because of Heath Ledger (1979-2008). A talented young man. An actor. A father. A mere 28 at his death. His resume already filled with impressive performances. An Oscar nominee for his role as Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain - I think he should have won.
I feel the void of another promising life cut short. I think about Housman's poem and message. I have to disagree with Mr. Housman. I think that the world wanted Mr. Ledger to live a long, full life. Yes, I'll always remember him for his accomplishments, but I wanted to see more. And, I'm sure that Mr. Ledger would not have disappointed me.
I also reflect upon my own life. Nearly 54 years long. For whatever reason, I am still here. But, I often feel that I have too little to show for my hard work, talents and dreams. Clearly, I have much work left to do and so little time.
For this blessing, I am grateful.