James Charles Lehrer was the son of a man who owned three buses and who worked for a bus transportation company. As a kid, he grew up with buses. As a man, many years later he owned a bus, as a hobby. He was a newspaper man if there ever was one. When he quit his job as a newspaper man, it was to go on public television as a news host. He partnered with a man named Robert McNeil, and they developed the PBS McNeil/Lehrer Newshour. Then, he had a heart attack.
After Lehrer’s heart attack, he started looking at life differently. Before, he had gone through life with a sort of pall over him. He went through it, taking things as they come, but he was not happy. After his heart attack many things changed.
For one thing, he quit smoking. He had smoked for thirty years. But after his heart attack he quit. He also changed his diet. Before, he had eaten what “…I have eaten since I was a pimply-faced fifteen-year-old.” That included mostly what we would call fast food today. After his heart attack he ate ‘healthy.’ He also started a habit of daily exercise. He took a nap in the afternoons. He took long walks. He watched at least one movie every day in the afternoons. Sum total: he changed his life.
The one thing that did not change was his work. He went back to work a few months after his heart attack, and he continued to co-host and commentate on the top news of the day.
But the main change that came about as a result of his heart attack was his mood. He was now a happy man. He began to really enjoy life. He enjoyed his walks. He enjoyed his friends and his family. He wanted to go on living. He developed a fear of another heart attack, and that lived with him for the rest of his life, but he was, overall, a man who had found a purpose and a meaning. A man who before was full of fears and phobias and crazy newspapermanishness, but now he had settled down, accepted his new way of living, and he was a better man for that.