This morning I watched Sunday Morning on CBS - along with 60 Minutes, it is my favorite news show on television. They did a 12 to 15 minute segment remembering all of the notable people who died in 2007 - it was a long list of saints and sinners.
What became apparent throughout the montage of personalities, was the fact that all of these dead people, despite wealth, fame, accomplishment and so on, left everything we esteem important behind. The jaded Queen of Mean, Leona Helmsly, and the sweet sinner-convert-holylady televangelist, Tammy Faye, disappeared into the shadows of death. Death seemed to neutralize their reputations, and I simply felt sorry for them. They left everything behind. Despite their fame, they may not even garner a memory, save as a footnote in history. The inventors and sports figures who died perhaps left a more lasting legacy, as had entertainers such as the powerful Merv Griffin, and in comparison - the lowly Charles Nelson Riley. Yet remembered after death or not, their memory is but a shadow of the illusion their lives became for us.
The saying is cliche, yet true, death is the great equalizer. Again, Sting's lyrics come to mind:
"When the doctors failed to heal you
When no medicine chest can make you well
When no counsel leads to comfort
When there are no more lies they can tell
No more useless information
And the compass spins
The compass spins between heaven and hell" - "Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot" - Sting