The world lost an icon this week: Alex Trebek, long-time host of Jeopardy, the most intellectual game show ever.
What a life, what a calling. Even in the middle of chemotherapy treatment for his Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, he would show up at the studio at 5:55 a.m. to get to work by 6. He’d get his assignments and spend 90 minutes making sure he knew all the ‘questions’ to the answers he’d present at 11 a.m. showtime. He did the research on his own.
Was he the smartest man in the world? Could be…His job required him to know a little bit about a lot of different topics.
I admired him and was a faithful viewer. In fact, there was a time when I fantasized about being a contestant on Jeopardy and getting all of the ‘questions’ right!
Over the years, relationships came and went, but Alex was always the one constant.
He brought out the deep knowing in me. So many times, I knew the question when the contestants did not. And even more times, I would blurt out the right question without a clue of how I knew it. I concluded that it came from some deep well of knowledge that had sprung forth from a past life.
And if not for Alex that knowledge may have lied dormant forever.
Because of Alex, millions of Americans sharpened their brain power every night while having fun.
What a contribution. What a purpose.
And he got paid very well to live a purposeful life. He said that if it were not for the money he made, he would not have been able to make a difference in the lives of the many children he helped in third world countries.
His cancer gave him pause to appreciate his life, and made him even more conscious of how in his short time left, he could continue to make a bigger difference in the world.
Because he talked openly about the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, he saved lives of those who normally would have brushed off the pain.
So what does this have to do with anything?
It’s just another example of how we are called – in a series of unseemingly related events – to live a bigger purpose. Whether that purpose is hosting a tv show, empowering clients, designing websites, saving lives, helping children, whatever.
A purpose comes in all varieties.
You don’t have to heal at the level of Mother Theresa to live your purpose. Your responsibility is to be who you are, and to live fully as who you are.
Alex had an opportunity to do more, and he did, even at 80 years old, vowing to do even more good in the world until he could do no more.
How many of us would see suffering as an opportunity? He had as good an excuse as anybody to give up and yet he showed up every day. Bringing joy to many households, and that kept him going.
He could have stayed in bed, stressed about losing his hair, his stamina, letting his ego keep him down.
But he pushed through. For us. His purpose grew larger every day. And even now that he is gone, he will continue to inspire so many more people through his fortitude and courage, and his big heart.
And reruns, I’m sure.
I’ll miss you Alex. 7 p.m. weeknights just won’t be the same without you.