02/07/2014 11:12 am ET | Updated Apr 09, 2014

Philip Seymour Hoffman's Legacy


During a 24-hour period this past week, two fine performers passed away. Maximilian Schell was 83. Philip Seymour Hoffman was 36 years younger, a mere 46 years old.

Most Baby Boomers are probably familiar with both these talented men.

Perhaps nothing other than acting and an Oscar connects the two men. Schell died of natural causes. Hoffman, allegedly of a drug overdose.

Schell lived a fairly long life filled with accomplishments, Hoffman a far shorter one packed with much success.

It's hard not to be saddened; and of course Hoffman's death seems the more tragic because of his youth and promise. Yet, however sad, it leaves us a legacy... something to think about . How long do any of us get to inhabit a corporeal existence? We might live to 100 and it's still a tiny fragment in the overall scheme of things.

As Baby Boomers, we get caught up in the daily strife of managing our own lives and often those of our children, grandchildren or parents.

It often becomes all too easy to dwell on all the stress and not the joys and rewards that come our way.

Focusing on the negative comes much more naturally. Stressful events impact us on a virtually daily basis. It's part of the human experience. Whether it's financial woes, the job, worrying about family members, medical issues, petty disagreements or the myriad of little annoyances that seem to buzz around our head like a hungry mosquito looking to suck our life blood.

Then there's the media that by its very nature tends to be fraught with depressing information about terrorism, genocide, poverty, man's inhumanity to man or the 24 hour flurry of political cable network news chock o' block full of petty character assassination .

Boomers grew up with televised news twice a day and reading a newspaper. Times have sure changed. Most of us have adapted to this 'Brave New World' admirably. But it takes a toll.

We've become inured to the negative and so often end up approaching life with a jaundiced and frustrated view. We've seen and lived through so much. Yes, we've shared happy moments, but so often we find ourselves assailed by seemingly unending stress.

For most of us our lives are filled with challenges on a daily basis. However, how we choose to approach the trials and tribulations of the 21st Century will yield very differing results.

It often becomes too easy to look at life through a dark lens. We're not aware we are doing this. It's been a slow process that developed from negative feedback we received as children and for the past 50 or 60 years has continued to blossom and grow like weeds in an untended garden, cobwebs in the basement or accumulated mouse droppings in an abandoned farmhouse.

Once in awhile it's important to sit back, introspect and perhaps pull out a pair of rose colored glasses.

The loss of two revered and respected actors, while tragic affords us the opportunity to reflect.

Life goes on and more celebrities will die. In the fullness of time we will pass on as well.
Daily challenges will continue. But they doesn't have to inform the way we live.

Stress is how we most often cope with all the negativity. Put the term 'stress reduction' into a search engine and you'll come up with 25,000 results in less than 0.40 seconds. Can there be any doubt that many if not most of us live with frustration and anxiety as part of our daily staple?

So, as many of us mourn the passing of two great actors separated by generations, let's also take the opportunity to reflect on the positive. Let us be mindful in our approach to life. Let's be aware of all for which we have to be thankful.

How much better would we feel if upon waking each morning there was the expectation of a fabulous day filled with great opportunities, joy, fun, humor and satisfaction? Then when the inevitable negative event occurs, it's within the framework of a positive outlook.

It's so much easier to handle the depressing from an upbeat stance than the other way around. The statement "wake up and smell the roses" may seem a bit pollyannaish. I don't think so.

We need to work at digging out all the positive that life has to offer and then maximizing upon it and enjoying ourselves to the fullest.

As we've reflected upon the short time we all share a spot in the universe, how great will it be to face tomorrow with a consciousness of all the beauty the universe has to offer and to seek ways in which we can take charge and make the most of every opportunity.

Finally, I say to all Baby Boomers make an extra call or text to a loved one. Remind them of how much you care and the positive impact they make upon your life. After all, is there anything more important than family!

I welcome your thoughts and comments on this article. As Baby Boomers I think it's so important for us to use our numbers, 76 million+ strong to both enjoy our lives and enhance that of others. We have the power, let's use it.