i found out not through the news media (of which i consume very little), but because people on my msn messenger contact list are paying tribute to the man by inserting the icon of a turtle in front of their display names. i saw it earlier tonight and thought little of it, but having just returned to my pc and seeing more turtles on my screen, inquired as to the reason.
i've nothing against (nor for, really) the man himself, and it sounds like a freakish way to depart this mortal coil. and death is never really a joyful thing to contemplate, unless you have the hope of life beyond death, in which case not even death is an altogether bad thing, and if you take (the apostle) paul's perspective on things, it's more than "not bad", but far better.
i reflect not on the man, his life, what he represented and stood for, nor what he meant to others (human and/or animal??), but on this wave (ok, maybe wave is too hyperbolic a word) of response i observe on msn. i opine not on specific individuals who choose to conform (ok, perhaps participate is a less confronting word :p) to the trend, for i cannot judge the motives and thoughts of their hearts behind the typing of "(tu)".
yet i wonder... who thought of starting this trend in the first place, and what does it achieve really? was the turtle chosen because it's the closest default emoticon to a crocodile? it's a dark green/grey coloured reptile...
more importantly, why choose such an arbitrary gesture to denote the payment of tribute? it may be well-meaning, but well... does it really mean anything? or is it another here today, gone tomorrow type of fad, more transient than the life (and death?) to which it's meant to point. does it even point to him, if people don't understand the sign?
the cynic in me thinks there's an opening for some clever marketing and promotions people there somewhere, do with a turtle what has been done with red noses, pink and red ribbons and the like.
but i digress...
in the end, if the death of someone, whether it be your closest friends/family or a celebrity on the other side of the globe, forces you to consider the fleetingness of your own life and the lives of others, then there's potential for good things to come from that. may you find a sure hiding place in the rock of ages, and bring others to him, such that you may all sing:
While I draw this fleeting breath,
when my eyelids close in death,
when I soar through realms unknown,
bow before the judgement throne:
hide me then, my refuge be,
Rock of ages, cleft for me.