I had a pre-prepared, midweek, filler post ready to upload today but instead, here is my reflection on the death of Gaddafi.
This video really struck me, particularly the complete and utter lifelessness of the body being dragged along the ground. No matter who you are, no matter how powerful you become, no matter how much wealth you acquire, one day you will be nothing more than a sack of meat. I don't mean this observation to spark one of those Carpe Diem, seize the day, make the most of your life, type of realisations. That isn't my natural response to this. If there is a group of people throughout history who have seized the day and lived their life to the fullest, then Mr Gaddafi is definitely a member. What I am drawn to do is to wonder what part of life is worth seizing, because for all of Gaddafi's pride and power and extravagance during his life, he still ended up cowering inside a pipe, in the city of his birth, begging his pursuers "don't shoot". Nothing Gaddafi lived for now remains. Nothing.
I can't help but compare Gaddafi's death to the also recent death of Dennis Ritchie. Most of us probably didn't even know who Dennis Ritchie was before he died (I didn't). Yet, he played an instrumental part in developing one of the most widely used computer programming languages. He also played a key part in developing the computer operating system who's descendants power the world.
One of these two people lived his life full of glory, fame, fortune and grandeur. The other did not and I highly doubt was any less happy because of it. But which one's life has the greater legacy? Who's impact will still exist hundreds of years from now and who's impact is gone already (mere hours after his death)?
While most of us are not going to become dictators of oil-rich nations or design programming languages that end up used throughout the world, the same decision exists for anyone with the tiniest shred of ambition. Strive for popularity and acceptance, now? Or, strive for a lasting impact on tomorrow? Certainly the second path can often lead to the same destination as the first. But, any time we spend pursuing the first path for its own sake inevitably leads us further away from the destination of the second.
No matter how much glory we obtain, or seizing of the day that we do, one day we will all be soulless sacks of meat, just like Colonel Gaddafi.