Treading Lightly

sundialfactorysUnder the circumstances, it’s nice to take things easy, & post from in bed, without bothering to edit, transcribe, analyse or otherwise fuss.

So here is a sound file in .mp3, with best wishes to all visitors past, present and future.

The picture above shows a former factory, now students’ residence, as seen from the bedroom window yesterday. It’s been under construction for nearly three years and work continues daily, while many of the rooms have been occupied for months already. I’ve referred to it in various posts:

An Ordinary Valley” (October 25th, 2007, not long after we’d moved into this house)

Lucid Waking” (April 29th 2013)>

The Sun-dial Factory” (April 1st, 2014)

Rebuilding from Within” (July 18th, 2014)

Love Fallen and Redeemed” (October 10th, 2016)

My audio broadcast refers to a couple of posts in particular:

The Denial of Death, by Ernest Becker” (October 21st, 2010)—my most popular post, I’ve no idea why

On Fresh Air Alone” (January 5th, 2015)—one of my personal favourites, especially with these lines:

Eventually it became clear that it [smoking] hastens death, so it must (so the logic goes) be made extinct, like polio, tuberculosis, malaria, though none of these has yet. The logic must be pushed to its conclusion. One by one, every single cause of death must be eliminated, old age no exception. Every dangerous practice, such as climbing up ladders alone, must be forbidden. Only suicide, in theory, will declutter the world of surplus humanity, unless people become spontaneously murderous, for which purpose there is no shortage of weapons. And now we read:

Cancer is the best way to die and we should stop trying to cure it, says doctor

Dr Richard Smith said cancer gave sufferers time to say goodbye and pain could be endured through ‘love, morphine, and whisky’.

The opinions expressed by doctors, pundits or anyone else quoted in these 673 posts do not of course necessarily coincide with those of the author.


And as to the “Assassin” mentioned in the broadcast, he’s the brother-in-law of my ex-next-door neighbour. I’ve never learned his real name, but this post explains how the nickname came about.

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12 thoughts on “Treading Lightly

  1. For now it is enough to hear your voice which which I have never heard before. Trouble not yourself with questions or if you could do more or differently. You are following your leading and blessing those who have ears to hear. Thank you.

  2. If it were feasible to edit the audio file, I would change the mentions of “death” to “mortality”. But let it stand, warts & all, as every mortal life must.

  3. Missed this one from a couple of days ago. Glad to see you’re still well and posting.

    I remember that post with the quote about cancer being the “best way to die.” That’s been lodged in the back of my brain for, it looks like, a good two years now, partly because of my father having cancer, I suppose, but also partly because it’s gotten under my skin. It’s true — I can’t hardly help but see and concede the point — but it’s also such a morbidly compromising and practical attitude in the face of inevitable death.

    I remain stubbornly with the school of thought that holds that NO WAY is a good way to die, that we should hold out a greedy hope for as many tomorrows as we can get our hands on. I’m not going to look for the “bright side” and say, “Well all things considered, this really is the best …” No! I’m not ready for that! Yes, it’s coming — it’s been coming for all of us since the moment we’re born — but you either keep living your life or you start to reconcile with the fact that it’s over. You either stay out on the floor and keep placing bets, or you cash in your chips and start settling your accounts. Me? They’re going to have to drag me away from the tables. I’m not going without a fight.

  4. Yes! So many considerations here: instinct, reason, facts, guesswork, trying to see what’s best or least bad. Philosophers have their ideas, but do they act accordingly? I suddenly think of Camus and his Myth of Sisyphus.

    And we may see things differently moment to moment. That “best way to die” line of thought may arise from contemplation of the looming spectre of Alzheimer’s disease, the ultimate winner at the table, ready to take on those gamblers who don’t know when to stop, & make life hell for everyone concerned.

  5. There’s a sense of dispatch about it too: the idea that this is the “best” and most discreet way to excuse yourself from existence for the sake of loved ones who’s lives still matter. But since the “you” addressed is the nebulous, impersonal “you”, it could mean anyone and ultimately means everyone, as even those same loved ones come to take their place in line, and their lives become an inconvenience requiring cold consideration as well.

    It’s one of those cases where everyone is admonished to clear a path for everyone else until all of humanity parts to open a royal road for no one, and in the end the message that comes through is: ” To whom it may concern: Die already.”

  6. Yes, the nebulous impersonal “you” or indeed “I” are what no one needs. Let them die already! The real you, the real I are irreplaceable. And it is impossible to imagine not being here any more.

    Who is the admonisher, by the way?

  7. Who are the admonishers? In this instance, I suppose it’s the doctors who want to stop working on cancer because they think it’s such a convenient way to wrap up all your affairs into a nice neat bow.

    In a more general sense, it could be any one of us. We tend to draw a firm line between the living and the “dying”, and then we decide that the main priority of the dying is to get themselves into the ground as quietly as possible, while the rest of us still have “stuff to do.”

    When someone has cancer, that line can be drawn well in advance of the actual end. My father was diagnosed 10 years before he actually died. 10 years is a long time to have people treating you like you’re living in the epilogue of your life, all the while silently measuring you for the casket with their eyes. A lot can happen in 10 years; it’s a sizable chunk of anyone’s life, living or dying.

    I’d rather leave everything in a mess and still be counted among the living up until five minutes from the end.

  8. I loved listening to that piece.

    Let us LIVE, LIVE, LIVE! while we still can – but let us not be pressed to carry on regardless beyond that point.

  9. I’m sorry to hear you aren’t well. I will send you a card by snail mail later this week. I’ve been thinking about you a lot since I read this.
    Very best wishes from Rob

  10. “Let us LIVE, LIVE, LIVE!” Yes, that is the thing, “I have been half in love with easeful death”, says Keats in his Ode to a Nightingale, but that’s a deadly road. “Cowards die many times before their death,” says Caesar, via Shakespeare. It is the will to live that holds the “I” together, without which we are filleted, unfitted to be alive. The other thing, about which I have said already too much, will come when its time is ripe, and not before.

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