NOTE: This piece was originally published on Jan. 26, 2020, when basketball legend Kobe Bryant and eight others were killed in a helicopter crash in southern California. This past Wednesday marked two years since that day, and that grim anniversary reminded me of the points made below–points that are as true today as they were then.
I know, I know… what does a no-name author have to do with Kobe Bryant?
Kobe Bryant, basketball legend, was one of nine people killed in a helicopter crash in southern California on Sunday (reports are that one of the victims was his 13-year-old daughter Gianna). He was only 41, just three-plus years removed from the end of his playing career.
Forty-one is clearly too young to lose anyone, and the day was spent with countless people going on and on about how transcendent a talent Bryant was on the basketball court, the kind of person he was off of it, and why he was the sort of person whose death inspired mourning en masse, even outside the world of basketball.
But I’m looking at the Kobe Bryant news from a slightly different perspective. Set the sports angle aside for a bit…
Kobe Bryant was someone who found the one thing he loved in life, the one thing he breathed for, and he completely devoted himself to it (if you can, find his animated short film Dear Basketball, for which he won an Oscar). He poured everything he had into the game of basketball, and he was rewarded tenfold for it.
Sports or not, I think that’s something that speaks to us all.
Writing — the written word — is that thing for me. Has been as far back as I can remember. I’ve built so much of my life on writing. Newspapers. Magazines. Websites. And five novels. Even the years when I saw myself as the next Jim Lee, the next big comic book artist, writing still had a seat at the table.
But in recent years, I’ve slipped.
And I can’t help but think… what if that happens to me? What if my time comes and I’m left knowing that I didn’t devote myself as much as I could’ve? That I let the one thing I love more than anything slip like that?
My biggest fear in life is not being good enough. But it’s also what I mentioned above; having to leave this life not having given everything I possibly could to the only thing I’ve loved in all of my 38 years.
I’ve had other loves, other interests, but none have been as lifelong as writing. I have so many stories I want to tell still, so many lives I watch to touch with the written word. I truly believe that was what I was put on this planet to do.
I know video and all that are the big thing right now. But the written word is my gift. The one thing I have to give to this world, at my best and at my worst.
I am a writer. That’s who I am.
So if nothing else, let today’s tragedy remind me — remind all of us — to truly dedicate ourselves to whatever it is we love most in life. Whether that’s basketball. Or books. Or drawing. Or helping the less fortunate.
Whatever it is you love… dedicate yourself to it.
Because today, we lost a man who did just that, and we lost him far sooner than we should’ve.
I don’t wanna go saying, “I could’ve…” I wanna go saying, “I did.”