I’m staring at my computer screen racking my brain trying to come up with a great opening about Roger Ebert and what his life and death have meant to me. How ironic. Ebert, it appears, didn’t struggle with words at all. A prolific writer of film reviews, books, magazine articles, blog posts and more, words, sentences, paragraphs flowed out of him like a swift-flowing, seemingly never-ending river.
The Tribune’s Mark Caro, in a wonderful tribute, said writing to Roger Ebert was like breathing. As a freelance writer, I'm envious of that natural instinct. Rarely, do I not agonize over a word or turn of phrase. Yes, words come forth from me, but they usually do not gush. And sometimes they trickle.
While I didn’t actually know Ebert personally (although I did once attend a small, intimate dinner party in which he was also a guest), I’m really, really going to miss Ebert for admittedly selfish reasons. Here are three of the things I’ll miss most:
1. His film reviews. For years now, I have checked with rogerebert.com before renting a DVD. The website is fabulous—an encyclopedia of reviews of almost any film you’d want to watch. Ebert never steered me wrong in his film critiques with one notable exception: “My Dinner with Andre.” If I was forced to watch that movie again, I’d either die of boredom or have to kill myself.
2. His journal posts and Tweets. Roger always had something interesting to say—whether it was about movies or something else entirely. And here’s an admission: Roger Ebert is really the only one I have ever followed consistently on Twitter.
3. His empathetic political voice. For this outsider, it seems since he’d been with Chaz, he was even more of a champion for social justice.
And upon reflection of Ebert’s death, I’ve learned, or at least been reminded of, some important life lessons:
1. Writers write. Ebert wrote a whopping 306 movie reviews last year—all while in the throes and depths of cancer. In the future, every time I get lazy about writing—and I will, I’ll think about Roger Ebert.
2. Live your life with integrity. I was simply amazed by his bravery to go in front of the camera when his face was disfigured by surgery. He puts me to shame when I fret over a wrinkle.
3. Try to make others happy and be grateful for what you have. Not just material things. But for family. For friends. For love. For life itself.
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