We All Die

I will die later rather than sooner, that is my hope.

Still, it remains indifferently true: there is not a single person on this planet who is not going to die; this while the majority lives on—wasting what time they have—secure in his or her immortality (this is especially true of teenagers—I know, I once was one).

Of course, there is no need to turn morbid about it, or to dwell on it, but unless we are utterly convinced that this physical world is all there is to existence, and that all these pesky, unanswerable questions are just that, pesky and unanswerable; unless this is our take on things and we opt not to listen to our heart of hearts which still does ask questions; unless we really could not care less about that uneasy feeling voiced by our heart, we do not have all the time in the world.

Annie Dillard once offered this quote to budding (or not so budding) writers:


Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients.

That is, after all, the case.

What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon?

What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its triviality?


We are dealt a hand that includes eighty or so relatively productive years. Twenty (give or take) of these, at the front end of things, are usually spent doing nothing much but learning how to walk and read.

Another twenty or so of these are usually spent seeking and finding a better half to sprout some bairns with.

The next twenty are usually spent planning for retirement and then actually retiring—not unlike treading water.

The last twenty (less a week or two) are then spent in blissfully boring retirement where pains now begin to come and go (and sometimes don’t go) and then we find ourselves in a hospital bed surrounded by sad-looking equipment and family.

The last week or two (the ones deducted in the paragraph above) are then spent wondering why we’ve wasted eighty years ignoring our heart’s pesky, unanswerable questions, which—it suddenly occurs to you—may not be so pesky and unanswerable after all, if you had only listened and asked them properly.

And then it’s too late.


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