Web exclusive: Fine philosophy


“The Five Things You Must Discover Before You Die”

Thursday, 9 p.m.

WFYI (Channel 20)

At this point in history, you’d have to be either a nitwit or a psychopath not to know how to lead a better life. If the “Ten Commandments” or “Tuesdays with Morrie” don’t provide the necessary guidance, how about those 40,000 self-help books, every magazine on the newsstands or Paul McCartney’s body of work? All you need is love, right?

Yet despite all the advice floating softly through our atmosphere, society seems to be angrier, more frightened, less fulfilled and absolutely certain that the path to a better life runs through a mall.

Into this contradictory breach steps “Canada’s philosopher on life,” Dr. John Izzo, who’s been lecturing on WFYI (Channel 20) this month on “The Five Things You Must Discover Before You Die.” (In his companion book, the word “things” in the title has been changed to “secrets.”) This Thursday, Izzo concludes his series (and appears live in the WFYI studio) with the fifth and final installment, “Return More: Living a Life of Significance.”

Izzo’s series is based on more than 200 interviews with people ages 60 and up who shared their stories and secrets for living a fulfilling life. Well, they’re not exactly secrets — be true to yourself, leave no regrets, make love a priority, live in the moment and give more than you take. Tonight’s message: You can’t take anything with you, but you can leave something behind. And maybe you can’t change the world, but you can improve your corner of it.

“Change always begins wherever we are,” Izzo says. “How are you changing the world by the way you’re showing up? What are you giving every day in terms of changing the vibe, the energy of the universe and of the world?”

Is this any different from Gandhi’s “Be the change you want to see in the world”? No.

But I’m a TV critic, not a historian nor the United States’ philosopher on life, so I’ll try to confine myself to what you’ll see on TV. And as television, “The Five Things You Must Discover Before You Die” is fine philosophy. The hour is mostly Izzo, who looks like a really content Wolfman Jack, just talking. There are a couple of cutaways to interviews with people sharing their experiences, and a few times we’re treated to sand animation created before our eyes. But generally, it’s a lecture, and the camera pans in and out enough to show that Izzo is speaking to a half-full auditorium.

Does this diminish the message? Not really. Ultimately, Izzo is thoughtful, well-organized and a reasonably entertaining speaker whose words might provide some clarity, if not enlightenment. And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.




Recommended for you