Michel: Making your life count

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 2, 2022

“The first thing I do each morning is read the obituaries. If my name’s not there, I make breakfast.”

It’s a funny comment, but in 1888, Alfred Nobel wasn’t laughing when he awoke to a report of his death. What disturbed him, even more than a careless reporter confusing Nobel with his brother who had actually died, was the content of the obituary.

It was factual. Distraught over another brother’s death in an explosion at their father’s arms factory, Nobel sought to develop a safer explosive and succeeded when he patented dynamite in 1867. However, he did not want to be remembered as the Merchant of Death, the title of his premature obituary. The man who held 355 various patents wished to go down in history for something that greater reflected his ideologies, his love for literature, and his interest in social and peace related issues. He made a decision that would alter his biography.

When Nobel died eight years later, he left his fortune to the establishment of prizes to honor men and women for outstanding achievements in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature and Peace. Upon his death, the Nobel Peace Prize was born.

I have only one question. If your obituary was written today, would it reflect all you intended for your life?

Excuse me. I have some work to do.

Ronny may be reached at ronnymichel@rtconline.com.