It's the key philosophy that racked the minds of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Rene Descartes and many other of the famous philosophers.
Yesterday brought about the deaths of Pat Summit and Buddy Ryan in quick succession. Pat's was expected, and she passed away at 7 a.m. Eastern. Buddy was about two hours later. Cormac McCarthy was briefly dead around 11 a.m. before USA Today retracted their story.
But an unexpected death shook the (MAC football) world at around three: Zurlon Tipton, of Central Michigan fame, passed away due to an accidental gunshot wound.
So we ask ourselves, why?
Zurlon was in "good" condition at the hospital. Why did his condition turn so bad so soon? Why did he have to go so soon, before he could reach his potential?
Pat was still at the top of her game when the symptoms started showing themselves, and those symptoms would claim her five years later. Why haven't we found a cure for dementia or Alzheimer's?
Buddy, beloved by everybody who met him, faced many physical hurdles that ultimately proved to be too much. Why must the world deprive us of such a grand, well-beloved soul?
Seeing such big-impact deaths drop down the pipe so quick make you want to pound your fists on the desk and just scream "Why? What's the point?" I put my hands to my face and inhaled sharply upon reading the news of Big Z. I had to hold my tears back at work.
You don't realize the impact that people have on your life until something calamitous happens. I watched Zurlon play in front of me for the most part of three years. I remember the victory at Iowa in 2012 and that image of him celebrating on the sideline. (I, too, celebrated that victory by jumping around in my living room.) I remember him coming back from a supposedly-season ending ankle break to destroy Western Michigan to win the Victory Cannon his senior year and then plow EMU the next week. Zurlon helped to seal the 2012 Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl two weeks later, giving me one of the greatest memories of my lifetime in the process.
I had the pleasure of talking to Zurlon a couple times at MAC Media Days or CMU-related functions, and his smile and laugh were as genuine and real as it gets. He was a candid soul, and had no qualms or reservations telling you the truth.
He wasn't perfect by any means.
To the Indianapolis Star, he opened up about his considering retirement after 2013 and that he fell into a deep depression.
Zurlon struggled for playing time once turning pro and seemed to have some personal issues at some point, being arrested on Christmas Day last year for firing off an AR-15 in a residential neighborhood. But, by all accounts, he was a great guy and many people in the CMU community will miss him.
2016 has been a bad year for death and its omnipresence over significant parts of our culture. Yet, here we are, faced with story after story, life after life, and we are forced to ask why.
Ultimately, perhaps it's useless to ask why these sorts of things happen. It forces us to acknowledge the mortality of our own lives. Instead, perhaps it is best to reflect and think about what these people mean to us and what can be done to help others in similar situations, and then act upon it.
But then, that's just my opinion.
To put a wrap on this, here is Flint Eastwood, an indie band from Detroit whose latest EP, Small Victories, hits upon many themes surrounding grief and denial. It was written after the death of the lead singer's mother. Enjoy.
Author's note (as of 11:47 AM CST): A statement made about Roseville police's comments regarding the Tipton case have been removed and modified. It was made both in error and in great emotion. The comments were procedural in nature, and the suggestion of racial politics was unfair. I apologize for the remarks.