I've known pain so fierce that I would have leapt gratefully into Death's embrace if only He'd come for me. I don't recommend it to anyone. Nor need I remind others of pain's horror. But there are worse things to happen to a man. Do we need reminding? No, we know well already and as plainly.
I was thinking of Dalton Trumbo recently. I don't like his writing much. So I changed it a bit to make it somewhat better.
"Jerusalem fell, and you were not there, and I was not there, and perhaps if we had been, the city would have stood and the world would have been changed and better. But we were here, and here together we remain, and Jerusalem won't fall, and if it should, better that we lie buried in its ruins than be found absent a second time."
Dalton Trumbo, "Letters"
I'd like to think that I am special. Sometimes I do. But then reality returns and I find that I'm one guy like most others, a guy who is as vulnerable to pain as anyone else, and as likely to die. I look on it as salt at the banquet of life. A pinch but not too much. I see our friends in need, not of us but in need, and I see that we should avail ourselves to our friends in our best manners. My friend does not need me. I'm not special. Somehow I find that I do not care.
Bring me my bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire.
William Blake, "Jerusalem"
When I walk through the shadows I grasp the hand of Moira, and I laugh!
DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee, 5
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell, 10
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
John Donne, "Death be not proud, though some have called thee"
I wish I were special, so fuckin' special. I wish I were special like some Presbyterian pastor in Pennsylvania. I'm just me, and I hurt. But I don't hurt that badly that the world stops for me.
1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
3 What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun?
4 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.
5 The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
6 The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.
7 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full: unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.
8 All things are full of labor; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.
Ecclesiastes. "All Is Vanity"
There is a painting by El Greco, the sight of which is so painful to me that it drives me to my knees. I don't think I'm special, but I know I am blessed. You too.
"Yet," said Crito, "the sun is still upon the hilltops, and I know that many a one has taken the draught late, and after the announcement has been made to him, he has eaten and drunk, and enjoyed the society of his beloved; do not hurry--there is time enough."
Socrates said: "Yes, Crito, and they of whom you speak are right in so acting, for they think that they will be gainers by the delay; But I am right in not following their example, for I do not think that I should gain anything by drinking the poison a little later; I should only be ridiculous in my own eyes for sparing and saving a life which is already forfeit. Please then to do as I say, and not to refuse me."
Plato, The Death of Socrates
I would live for a thousand years if only.
My mind is awhirl with the words and deeds of the dead, and so because I live and they lived. What a happy life.
We are blessed to live in this time with this great chance to live right lives.
I would live for a thousand years if only.