As sad as it may be, every once in a while I need to be reminded of the fragility of life. Such was the case earlier this week when an under-the-radar sports story stopped me in my tracks and really made me think. I was watching Game 1 of the World Series, and amidst stories about Josh Beckett and the Rockies spectacular win streak, Joe Buck told the story of the death of Matthew Wasser:
The Yankees organization has been mourning the passing of media relations department intern Matthew Wasser, 22, who passed away Sunday morning in Waltham, Mass. Wasser was a passenger in a taxi cab rear-ended by a driver charged with operating under the influence of alcohol.
Born and raised in Bernardsville, N.J., Wasser was to graduate from the College of New Jersey in December with a degree in communications. He is survived by his parents, Marilyn Gottlieb Wasser and Eric Wasser, and siblings Jason and Stephanie.
“A loss of this magnitude is impossible to put into words,” said Jason Zillo, the Yankees’ director of media relations. “Matt will long be remembered for his boundless enthusiasm and uplifting, selfless spirit. The Yankees family reaches out to the Wasser family during this tremendous time of grief, as we keep his loved ones and friends close to our heart.”
A story like this really makes you realize that nothing in life is guaranteed. Neither you or I can say for sure that we will wake up tomorrow, or whether or not we’ll make it through the day unscathed. Matthew did nothing wrong – he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and just happened to hop into a taxi with a drunk driver. Take from that what you will. I’m certainly not one to claim to be all-knowing when it comes to life and death, but to me there’s two ways you can look at it: either you’re pessimistic and bitter and believe that life is unfair, or you embrace the fact that life is precious and (as cliched as it is) live every day like it’s your last.
Well OK, let’s just say that you believe the latter like I do. What does “live every day like it’s your last” mean? Some people would take that as “have fun all day long”, but when you really think about it that mentality is wholly self serving and would leave most people unsatisfied on their death bed. When I die, I hope people say more than “he liked to have fun”. I’d hope that I would have made the world a better place and improved the lives of those I crossed paths with.
What exactly that means, probably opens up a pandora’s box of more questions: should I spend more time with my friends? More time creating a business to innovate society? More time doing charity work? More time with my family? Etc. Those are constantly churning through my head, and I certainly don’t have answers to them. But I think asking those questions to yourself helps ensure that you don’t take life for granted, regardless of whether or not we ever answer them.