Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lessons from Tim Russert

Ever since the untimely death of Tim Russert on June 13, I've been thinking a lot about the legacy people leave behind and the ways in which they touch others lives.

Though I reported on the television industry for many years, it was in the era of Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, so I never had the chance to meet Tim Russert. I can't help thinking that my life was a little less rich because of that, and not because of all the journalistic accolades that have been heaped upon him in recent days. No, the man I regret not meeting was the husband, father and friend that people spoke about so eloquently during his memorial service at the Kennedy Center.

Among those speaking were the famous -- Brokaw, Brian Williams, Governor Mario Cuomo, Maria Shriver -- and the less known, including a nun from his parochial school in Buffalo. All of them, though, spoke of the personal side of this man whom so many people felt they knew from watching him on Meet the Press and other news shows. They spoke of his exuberence, his genuine joy in politics, in life. And they talked about what a generous and giving friend he was.

Those are the lessons I want to take away from this man I never knew. I want to remember to live each day, if not to the fullest, then at least to the very best of my ability. I want to exult in the triumphs of my friends, share in their sorrows, and simply stay in touch in a way that lets them know I care. I want to laugh, to love, to take time for the things about which I'm passionate. These are easy goals to put down on paper, but far harder to live once the hustle and bustle of must-dos kicks in. Or maybe it's as simple as making those things must-dos, as well, carving out those few minutes or few hours for the things that bring us joy.

I can't imagine that most of us are busier than Tim Russert, that our jobs are more demanding. Yet, he found the time for these most important things in life and so can we. It's all a matter of priorities and focus and determination. No longer can love and laughter be at the bottom of the list. For if it's at the top, then everything else must surely fall into place.

I hope his father, his son, his wife understand that in sharing their very private moments of grief they've allowed Tim to go on inspiring not just the journalists of the world, but the human beings. Thanks for that.

Sherryl Woods

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