The clear awareness of having been born into a losing struggle need not lead one into despair. I do not especially like the idea that one day I shall be tapped on the shoulder and informed, not that the party is over but that it is most assuredly going on—only henceforth in my absence.— Christopher Hitchens
The newsletter is late this week. I blame it on this photo. It evokes so many different stories I was paralyzed by choice. Many thanks to one of your fellow newsletter subscribers who helped break the mental log jam.
Pardon my side-stepping the stories related to suicide. REM says all that needs to be said in their masterful Everybody Hurts (music video.)
My death with dignity stories is not in a state that respects the critical importance of societies and governments realistically, bravely – cemented in a foundation of wisdom – acknowledging death to lay out paths to a dignified life exit.
Let’s leave it to Sam Harris to beautifully articulate why living each day’s life to its fullest is the best revenge we have against the Grim Reaper. See the companion video below.
What remains in my mind…
Incredibly there is a new story about the Hitchhiker.
The Hitchhiker’s hike from the Mexican border was planned to end at the Canadian border. Forgive me for not going on a tangent about how impressive that is. The greatest challenge was how to get from the finish line back to LAX on time. Their visa allows for an extended stay but has a hard deadline. Exit by the date stamped on your passport or be banned from entering the United States for life! Yeah.
While there was enough time to finish the hike, it presumed good conditions. What the Hitchhiker faced instead was forest fires along the last leg of the route. Threatening life and progress. Choking smoke. And for good measure, cold rain. Early snow, why not, yep that too.
Fearing the Hitchhiker has very limited time to catch their flight, I email every possible transportation option, full of details.
The good news, the Hitchhiker finished early. Plenty of time to catch the flight. That’s what their email said announcing they just completed their triumph and started heading south. Including, “will reply in detail tonight or tomorrow.”
And then the silence came. Not a word from the Hitchhiker. No indications of life online. Disappears. Made worse by their plan to hitch-hike to LAX. Pleas for some confirmation of life. Nothing. Searches of the missing person database. Nothing. News searches for missing hikers. Tragically too many of those, but no results for our Hitchhiker.
Four long weeks. Incredible the worry. For those who have loved ones vanish for much longer, I have no words.
Good news. The Hitchhiker sends word. Safe.
Bad news. Has been hospitalized for weeks with COVID. That’s right, a young person at peak human health and in top physical condition, taken down by an invisible enemy.
One worry was replaced with another. This worry is amplified because of my other friend in their early thirties who just got out of the hospital after three months because of COVID. Long story short, lungs riddled with holes. This friend fears death may come.
As the late, great Christopher Hitchens was dying of cancer, he reflected upon the pending inevitability. Repeating this newsletter’s block quote:
“The clear awareness of having been born into a losing struggle need not lead one into despair. I do not especially like the idea that one day I shall be tapped on the shoulder and informed, not that the party is over but that it is most assuredly going on—only henceforth in my absence.”
Like Hitch, It isn’t that the party is over when death comes that annoys me the most about death. It’s that the party goes on without me. Without you.
Let us all recommit to dedicating our lives to loving and living to the fullest before our exit is forced upon us. Let’s not postpone either for promises of getting it right after death.
And now … know the photograph.
Sam Harris – The Lessons of Death
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