Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Do Something For Walt

Mr. Bruhl's, from the Business Insider article cited below, fair use claimed  
 Greetings All:

On March 9th, Walter George Bruhl, Jr, Marine Sergeant and Korena War Veteran passed away.  I did not know Walter Bruhl.  I likely would never have heard of him for but seeing the Post from Business Insider on Facebook.  I am glad I did.  Mr. Bruhl penned his own obituary.  It is amusing, clever, at times biting and a wonderful send-off.  As I mentioned, I did not know this man.  However, after reading his obituary, I wish I had.  After reading his full obituary, I suspect many of you will feel the same way.  Here's the link to the article and the full obituary:

Death is inevitable.  It will come to all of us.  Yet few of us take the time to fully prepare for it, especially to the degree as Mr. Bruhl.  Only half of us (Americans, to be precise) have a will and only 42% have a living will.

This is part of the intrigue, at least to me, about Walter Bruhl.  He took the time to write his own obituary.  Is there some self-centered aspect to this?  I suppose.  However, when I read it, I don't hear a man blowing his own horn.  I see someone who did not take himself too seriously.  He also spared his family yet another of those unpleasant tasks of having to write about a loved' one while in the initial stages of grief and under the deadline of the newspaper.  

There is another aspect to this story.  By reading this obituary, it gives all of us the opportunity to think about how we want to be remembered.  It also can be a catalyst for starting those things we want to do but have not gotten around to for whatever reason.  From starting a not-for-profit to a fitness program, getting going is a hard yet necessary step.  However, we're still around to get going.  I'll put my own spin on the saying, "There's no better time than the present," to "The present is all we have for sure, it's the only time."

Sometimes we need a jolt.  There is the story of the jolt Alfred Nobel got when he read his own obituary.  Nobel had made a fortune with his invention of dynamite.  When his brother died, the newspapers mistakenly thought that this Nobel had died and wrote an obituary about Alfred.  It was not flattering.  If anything, it summed up Nobel's life as being a creator of destruction.  

Alfred Nobel, Fair Use/Public Domain Claimed, link to article below
Nobel was shocked.  He knew unless he did not do something significant and soon, his life would be recalled, fairly or otherwise, for his ability to blow things (and people) up.  This obituary was his jolt.  From that day, he worked to create the Nobel Prizes, including the Nobel Peace Prize.  A man who otherwise would have been known (and vilified by some) for destruction became known for peace and progress.

As I often do for my blog posts, I consulted my research team (Google) and after a deliberate 20 second search, came up with the below article from Rabbi Dov Greenberg.  Although the article has, understandably, a religious aspect to it, there is a secular message for everyone- it's never too late to change your life's focus and your obituary.

Back to Mr. Bruhl and the end of his auto-obituary.  He asks that in lieu of flowers, that we do an act of "...unexpected and unsolicited act of kindness for some poor unfortunate soul in his name."  That seems like a reasonable request and a fitting way to honor this man.  I do not think these acts have to rival Alfred Nobel.  If anything, the more personal the act, the more genuine it would be.  As I read the article on Nobel from Rabbi Greenberg, I thought about From the Talmud-

"...And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world."

Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:9; Babylonian Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin 37a

 Here's a quote that's a bit more modern and secular, from Robert F. Kennedy:

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” 

So there you have it, one act of kindness will benefit the recipient, but in some sincere way the rest of us.  By doing something to honor Walt's memory, we're also doing something for the world we share with everyone else.  Not only is it an honorable way to remember Sergeant Bruhl, but a practical benefit to the rest of us.  I think that is some that both Walt and Alfred would approve.

Be well my friends,

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