Roger Ebert, THE film critic, author and first journalist (of three) to win a Pulitzer Prize passed away on Friday after a long battle with cancer. When he lost his voice to the disease he found a way to ‘keep on keeping on’ his work and became an avid social media user on both Facebook and Twitter. He refused to give up simply because his voice was gone along with part of his jaw. Although he could not eat or drink as we do, he found sustenance in other ways. Communicating to his nearly 600,000 followers was too important a task to walk away from – tenacity – he had it in spades. He created the now familiar thumbs up sign which became a trademark used by he and his fellow critic Gene Siskel who died in 1999. Demonstrating his passion for connecting with others, he posted his last blog on Wednesday, two days before his death.
What an impact he had on this world! Michael Moore credited him with his own success when he enthusiastically endorsed Moore’s first movie, ‘Roger and Me.’ The integrity of Ebert’s message was felt by both the large film industry as well as the small independent film producers. Movies should stand for something, make an impact and deliver a message along the way.
The tremendous success he experienced came from his honesty, hard work and passion for his field. He believed that the significance of films was in how they could sensitize us to go where we had never been in our minds. He encouraged us to stretch our sensibilities and walk in another person’s shoes during the 90 minutes of a well made movie. His reviews were never ‘bought or sold’ to the highest bidder. If he gave the thumbs up sign, you knew the price of the theatre ticket would be money well spent. He was a person who lived his truth in service to others and just happened to love his job along the way!
During his battle with cancer some people told him he was a brave inspiration. Shunning the accolade he replied that “courage and bravery have little to do with it. You play the cards you are dealt.” He did not want praise or pity but to simply be allowed to keep on going and apply his steely determination to contribute to our views for tomorrow.
Reflecting on death he wrote in 2010 that he did not fear it because he “didn’t believe there was anything on the other side to fear. I was perfectly content before I was born and I think of death as the same state. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting.”
He lived life to the fullest and made an impact along the way. I wish him well on his journey. Tonight when we gaze up at the sky we might see a star flickering a little more brightly than the rest. It may be Roger Ebert telling us he has arrived and to keep on going regardless of our challenges and to remember to enjoy the ride as we give it everything we’ve got to make the world a little better place. ‘Roger on that…’
Have a great few days!