Until a few days ago, I didn’t know who Paul Walker was… had never seen the Fast & Furious movies. Of course, I’m not the only one to remark upon the irony of the death of one of the racing car franchise stars in a fiery single car accident… an unmistakable example of life imitating art.
By all accounts Paul was a talented actor, loving father, brother and son. As personal a tragedy as the loss is for those who knew him, it’s a loss to the rest of us because this was a rare find, a guy who had made it in a super hard business, but never forgot people who were in need, giving time and money to help.
The stories of the good he did are many, some date back years.
I never will (not being a driver) understand the kind of passion for cars and speed that made the Fast & Furious movies so successful. Or the pleasure he (and so many others) took in riding in such vehicles. Clearly many people can’t get enough… looking past risks that stop the rest of us and focusing instead on the feeling it must be to move that fast, challenging your own abilities, pushing the limits of a machine.
The sense of mastery, of power must be incredible.
It’s no surprise that the ongoing investigation is now suggesting that speed (not drag racing) was a factor in the deadly accident. The exotic looking car, driven by Paul’s friend Roger Rodas, was notorious for being hard to handle — a dangerous combination even for a professional driver on a wide road in the middle of a California afternoon.
It’s not the first time the rich and famous have thought they could handle more than they could. Comparisons to James Dean or John F. Kennedy Jr come to mind… men in their prime who were convinced they could outwit anything, could push any limit — only to have that unshaken faith rewarded with an untimely death.
Lost potential… what might have been. A stupid waste.
The people who knew Paul personally can take what comfort they can from the knowledge that the man they loved died a success. He was doing something he loved with a trusted friend at the wheel after spending his final hours working to do good for those less fortunate. All in all, not the worst way to go.
As for the rest of us, it’s yet another example of the irony of living… a reminder that a wicked sense of humor can sometimes play into the things that happen to us in this world. That youth and good looks and the belief in your own power is not enough to spare you should you tempt Fate once too often. Just like that Alanis Morissette song on irony says “a free ride when you’ve already paid” or “10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife.”
Irony is all around us, laughing darkly at our foibles and foolish belief in our own skills.