I read some one's post on Facebook that Nelson Mandela died today. Hmm? Really? I mean, I'm pretty connected to the world by this iPhone of mine. Alerts sound when there is breaking news on CBC; I'm on twitter off an on all day... how could I possibly be so out of the loop?
OMG Nelson Mandela is dead, I said aloud sitting in the basement on the computer. Andrew, who spent some time in South Africa last fall, said "I have to call my friends there and see how they are". Lauren looked like she was going to cry.
But as soon as I said it I realized it didn't seem right. So I checked cbc.ca. I opened twitter. Nothing. I went back and found the link on FB and clicked on it. It lead to a retraction on the Deutsche Welle website. "Retraction: Nelson Mandela 14.06.2013 - We regret that due to a technical error our report of Nelson Mandela's death was unintentionally published. It has now been taken down".
It had not really occurred to me, but I guess it makes sense that every media outlet on the planet has the story ready to go save and except the actual time of death.
As often occurs, this indent caught my attention in the quirky way that things do, and I 'googled' the phrase "reports of my death...." to discover the misquotation of Mark Twain:"the rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated", when in fact, he said, in response to the first inaccurate account of his demise in 1897: "the report of my death was an exaggeration". There would be a second report of his death in 1907, well in advance of his actual death in 1910.
There is a website which lists premature obituaries and there are quite a few! Many people I have never heard of have apparently died before they died. As well, George H.W. Bush, Joe DiMaggio, Fidel Castro, Dick Cheney and Barrack Obama must have just about choked on their morning coffee when reading the paper only to discover they were, apparently, dead.
The most amusing to me was reading that text messages circulating of Baroness Thatcher's death almost had Prime Minister Harper issuing a statement of condolence, only to discover that Baroness Thatcher was Minister John Baird's cat. Lady Thatcher did not leave us until 8th of April this year.
So off my mind goes, taking this in two completely different directions:
First: It is obvious but bears repeating. Do not believe everything you read on the Internet.
Second: (This is the big one). Not that I'm well known, but in the event that my obituary was being written in advance, ready to go live on the Internet at the moment of my death, what would it say? In other words, am I living a life that I am content not to have to defend - because I really can't - when I'm gone? Can I stand behind every word and every action? Was I true to myself? Did I have integrity? Lord knows I have not led a perfect life, and I have no illusions that there will be people who say "Oh my god, she's dead - that's terrible" as well as "Oh my god she's dead; hmmm what should we watch on TV tonight?" If I wrote my own obituary and tucked it away to be found after my death, would anyone recognize me through my words? Or would my self perception be out to lunch? I have written about this from a slightly different perspective a while back, and it is amusing to me how the lessons I need to learn most keep making themselves obvious to me in the most roundabout of ways.
Self examination: It seems to happen every time I feel changes coming. It's almost like I have to keep checking on myself so that when the page turns to the next chapter, I have it all together and I move forward as a whole person, with determination and a clear mind. I have no idea what it is, but I feel it and it leaves me edgy, and needing to re-group.
When Nelson Mandela does finally leave us, the world will be a different place. It will be sadder, but better because he was here.
Will the world be a better place because I was here?