A Few Words on … Roger Ebert, Beer and Not Taking Things for Granted

from Esquire.com

Roger Ebert photo published in 2010. Via Esquire.com

We hear it all the time.

“Live life to the fullest.”

“Live every day like it’s your last.”

YOLO.”

I’m kidding with that last one.

But seriously, folks, when we lose someone near and dear to us, it’s common to become introspective. To think about all the things you’ve never done. All the things you’re yet to do.

While I never met the man, Roger Ebert was something of a writing idol to me. I knew him first as co-host of “At the Movies” but I fell in love with his work when I became passionate about writing. His weekly reviews were brilliant contortions of wit and prose, identifying the popcorn highs of transcendent movies and unnecessary lows of slop on screen.

I promise I’ll get to what this has to do with beer.

It wasn’t until Ebert was diagnosed with cancer that I really started paying attention and reading what he had to say. And it wasn’t until this amazing profile by Chris Jones that I realized what an incredible man he was, in spite of the tribulations laid out for him in his final years:

Roger Ebert can’t remember the last thing he ate. He can’t remember the last thing he drank, either, or the last thing he said. Of course, those things existed; those lasts happened. They just didn’t happen with enough warning for him to have bothered committing them to memory—it wasn’t as though he sat down, knowingly, to his last supper or last cup of coffee or to whisper a last word into Chaz’s ear. The doctors told him they were going to give him back his ability to eat, drink, and talk. But the doctors were wrong, weren’t they? On some morning or afternoon or evening, sometime in 2006, Ebert took his last bite and sip, and he spoke his last word.

Can you remember your last beer? I’m sure you can. But if there were to be no more, how desperate would you be to cling onto that fleeting memory? For people who focus so much on whether a hop tastes like mango or peach or onion, what would we do if that weren’t an option any more?

Perhaps this is timed well with last week’s “Session,” where writers offered up their interpretation of what “finding beer balance” meant to them, many offering a look into interests outside of beer.

Today I am thankful that I get to drink beer whenever I please. I am thankful that flavors can cascade across my taste buds. And I am hopelessly grateful I found something that provides such sensory-induced wonder.

Even if it might taste like mango or peach or onion.

So in spite of really not knowing much of Roger Ebert aside from his appreciation for cinema, I hope that like me, you’ll give pause and live life to the fullest as much as you can. Drink every beer like it’s your last.

Let the flavors be more intense and the aromas be more pungent. That’s something we should all give a thumbs up about.

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

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4 thoughts on “A Few Words on … Roger Ebert, Beer and Not Taking Things for Granted

  1. I really, really, REALLY enjoyed this post. I try to keep that kind of perspective in my daily life, but like anyone else it’s very easy to lose. Thanks for slapping me in the face with it first thing this morning!

    • Thanks for the kind words.

      I went back to read that profile when I found out about Ebert’s death. It reminded me a lot of another piece from Esquire, a year earlier: http://www.esquire.com/features/chrons-disease-diet-0909

      In both cases, men were left without the basic function of being able to eat, something I can simply never imagine. It seems horrific to me, like some kind of torture.

      I would never wish that on anyone. After I wrote this post, I poured the biggest IPA I had in my house and sat at my kitchen table just smelling it. It was a simple moment, but I felt lucky for it.

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