Don't Pity Roger Ebert

Esquire recently posted a brilliant profile piece on film critic and writer Roger Ebert. I used to love watching Siskel and Ebert's televised film reviews on At the Movies but never really developed much of a sense of who either of them were as human beings. They had amazing chemistry and were fun to watch, but they didn't really exist outside of the most obvious character traits that were so predominant in their show. The one exception was when Ebert spoke of Gene Siskel's death on the first episode after it happened. In that moment it was obvious that the two men were more than two people simply doing a job and acting up for the camera.

Ebert has had a difficult decade. He developed various forms of cancer that affected his jaw, eventually resulting in its full removal. He can no longer talk, eat or drink and has suffered through a series of horrifying surgeries. But he is writing more than ever, much of it on his brilliant blog. He also has one of the most interesting feeds on Twitter. Like anything, technology can be misused and warped by malicious people. I love this story, this example of how it can enable wonderful things. It is inspiring, and if nothing else, it's an example of how significant social media can be and how important access is.

Ebert doesn't believe in God and he doesn't seem to want to be turned into a self-help guru. Nevertheless, he's learned a few things:
I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.
Ebert wrote the note at the top of this post during his Esquire interview. He's turned the act of making lemonade into an art. I'm going to try to keep this in mind as I head into Monday morning.

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