Life, the permission to know death.
We are born. We eat sweet potatoes. Then we die.
The partition separating life from death is so tenuous. The unbelievable fragility of our organism suggests a vision on a screen: a kind of mist condenses itself into a human shape, lasts a moment, and scatters.
Health . . . is foremost a matter of being wholly one with whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. Even our death is a healthy event if we fully embrace the fact of our dying. . . . The issue is awareness, of living in the present.
I heard a Tibetan lama address this same issue in a far different language. “We die not because we are ill but because we are complete. . . . Illness is the occasion of our dying, but not the cause.”
If your time hasn’t come, not even a doctor can kill you.
Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.
Out of the middle of the night’s darkness, or bringing me to a sudden, chilling halt during the day, the thought comes: This can’t be happening to me. Not to me. Me with a malignant tumor? Me with only a few months to live? Nonsense. And I stare up at the darkness, or out at the sunlit street, and try to encompass it, to feel it. But it stays unreal.
Perhaps the difficulty is my half-conscious presumption that such things happen, should happen, only to . . . strangers, who really don’t mind. . . . Whereas I am me. Not a stranger. Not other people. Me!
Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back into the same box.
All say, “How hard it is that we have to die” — a strange complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
What reconciles me to my own death more than anything else is the image of a place: a place where your bones and mine are buried, thrown, uncovered, together. They are strewn there pell-mell. One of your ribs leans against my skull. A metacarpal of my left hand lies inside your pelvis. . . . It is strange that this image of our proximity, concerning as it does mere phosphate of calcium, should bestow a sense of peace. Yet it does. With you I can imagine a place where to be phosphate of calcium is enough.
Old age is the night of life, and night the old age of the day; yet is the night full of magnificence, and, for many, more brilliant than the day.
There is no old age. There is, as there always was, just you.
When I was young, I was extremely scared of dying. But now I think it a very, very wise arrangement. It’s like a light that is extinguished. Not very much to make a fuss about.
Healthy children will not fear life if their elders have integrity enough not to fear death.
To die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly. Death selected voluntarily, death at the right time, consummated with brightness and cheerfulness in the midst of children and witnesses: so that an actual leave-taking is possible where he is yet present who takes his leave.
If you don’t know how to die, don’t worry; Nature will tell you what to do on the spot, fully and adequately. She will do this job perfectly for you; don’t bother your head about it.
If I am ever stuck on a respirator or a life-support system, I definitely want to be unplugged — but not until I get down to a size eight.
Death does not wait to see if things are done or not done.
Death is the last enemy: once we’ve got past that I think everything will be all right.