Every day, my computer shows me the rich and famous doing what they do - laughing, crying, skiing, lying, dating, baking in the sun beside their swiming pools. If I wanted to, I could set it up so that it showed me their comings and goings first thing, before any other news, just in case one of them were to have done something especially gripping and I slept through it.
Some of them are rich and famous because they are good at something. Many are rich and famous because they are beautiful to look at, or because they married someone famous. Some celebrities are famous just for being rich -- one thinks of Paris Hilton. And a few just fell into their celebrity, for reasons that will never make any sense. One thinks of Joe the Plumber.
Ted Kennedy was rich and famous. He was born into the rich part, of course, and born into famous as well. That being the case, he wouldn't have had to do much of anything if he hadn't wanted to.
But he did. He worked hard. He worked until the day before the day he died. He loved the work of being a senator, and in living that life he redeemed an inauspicious beginning, one that seemed to point him squarely in the direction of becoming a spoiled playboy and little else, by becoming one of the most effective senators in the history of that body. Friend and foe alike acknowledged his mastery of the craft of legislating. He grew into his own gifts.
He wanted to become president, once upon a time, but seems not to have been cut out for it. In the days since he died, many have remarked that Ted Kennedy accomplished more in his decades of service than he could have had he served eight years in the White House, where many have accomplished little or nothing and a few have done more harm than good. Senators aren't as famous as presidents, and a good one must make peace with that fact.
Most of us aren't ever going to be rich or famous. Presumably, we have made our peace with that reality also, and have set ourselves to discovering what it is that we will do with the gifts God has given us. A joyful life is, quite simply, a life that has found that path. A life that knows why it is here. A life that knows what is worth everything and what is worth nothing at all.