Michelle Lang, Danny Pearl, Dan Eldon & Lives Well Lived

Aside from the innate tragedy of losing people, it stands out to me, especially, when stories hit the news of soldiers dying, since I'm from an army family with friends in every branch.  Or, when stories hit of journalists - writers - who have died in their profession.

Michelle Lang, a Canadian journalist and blogger in Afghanistan, was killed a few days ago from a land mine explosion on a routine surveillance ride around Kandahar, along with four young Canadian soldiers.

The perils of journalism are not unfamiliar territory, especially after the book and movie A Mighty Heart, chronicling the kidnapping of American and Jewish journalist Danny Pearl, by his wife, Mariane Pearl, was released.

The part in the movie that broke me was when Angelina Jolie, as Mariane Pearl, was asked what she wished to tell her husband's kidnappers.  She had her hand on her belly and said simply, "I'm pregnant."  The story is like the Titanic, in that, the viewer knows he's not going to make it home, and their baby will never meet his dad, and they won't get to raise the child together.  It's impossible not to speculate that these are the fears going through her mind, and to not suffer knowing that those fears became actualized.

Not long ago, I was laying in bed reading when my roommate, Eirik, came upstairs to visit.  He noticed a book of Lennon's on the shelf, pulled it out, and told me I needed to put down what I was reading and start on this book instead.

The book was The Journey is the Destination, a collection of journals and art by Dan Eldon, compiled posthumously by his mother and sister.  Being a huge fan of art journals and not knowing anything about this guy, I liked the book immediately when I saw that the pages were vibrant collages of writing, photography, clippings, and paintings.

Eldon was a British citizen who grew up in Africa, and developed an intense compassion for people suffering from hunger, war, displacement, and lack of medicine.  He loaded up his friends into a land rover and drove across the continent to deliver food and supplies to people in refugee camps, (twice), and documented everything he encountered through words and art.  Not long after, (when one dies at 23, there's not enough time for things to take long), he was hired as a photojournalist, and traveled to the scene of a bombing to document the destruction and the effect on the people.  A mob turned on him and several others, and they were all stoned to death. 

This is one of his photographs:

A movie about his life is in the making, and I believe that Harry Potter's Dan Radcliffe will be portraying Dan Eldon.  I can not wait to see this, and I certainly hope that Hollywood doesn't muck it up.  I want to share a few of his journal images that I found online:

"The most important part of vehicle maintenance is clean windows, so if you are broken down, you will enjoy the beauty of the view." - Dan Eldon

The thing I want to take away from this is the reminder to be brave.  In travel, in art, in career choice, and in the practice of compassion.  It seems a fitting memorial, that when someone who lit up the world with their work disappears, to amplify our own lights, both out of necessity and in their honor.  The saddest thing of all is the thought of the world going dimmer each time someone with a strong heart goes out of it too soon.

Before I wrote this post I was starting to clench my muscles and jaw over past relationship drama, but letting things like that darken my day would not be putting their lessons into practice, and what good is inspiration if it is not acted upon?

I'm intensely curious to know: who inspires you?