Reality Check

There's nothing like a brush with mortality to force you to think about more than the everyday worries of life.

I guess what got me thinking was the news that British Prime Minister Tony Blair (search) was checking himself into a hospital to deal with an irregular heartbeat. The news comes only weeks after Bill Clinton (search) checked himself into a hospital with a clogged ticker.

Suddenly political battles don't seem so pressing, protesters don't seem so annoying, and turf fights don't seem so all-consuming. Not when you're looking at your life in the mirror and wondering whether there'll be a reflection much longer "in" the mirror.

I've studied people very closely who deal with such life-and-death issues. They're weird and I like that they are weird.

They go to meetings, but they aren't "about" meetings, or speeches, or earnings reports, or political and corporate power struggles.

They see the tedious in life through the fragility of their own life. It's why people with decades-long grudges try to bury them before they fear "they" are buried. It's why enemies become friends. And those slavish to details, become slavish to something deeper.

Nothing puts the day-to-day in perspective like realizing you might not see too many more days.

Maybe Tony Blair's seeing that. Maybe Bill Clinton's going through that.

There are so many dealing with so much that is terminal, that maybe they appreciate things not so easily terminated. Like family and friends and good deeds.

Debates and campaigns and media prognosticators come and go. But nothing jars you back to reality than discovering that so do you.

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