Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Memento Mori

John Donne posing for a portrait in a burial shroud. 

There really is no good way to introduce this thought, so here it goes: I firmly believe that you can't live your life fully without coming to terms with your own death, and the death of those you love. I'm convinced that living well is a pre-requisite for dying well, and that dying well is the capstone of a life fully lived. Dying is part of living, and preparing for our death, owning it as ours uniquely, is the only way we can come to terms with the gravity of every day living. Life is finite, and what we do with it, every single livelong day, matters. When we remember that we will die, we are simultaneously reminded that now is the time to live.

I bring this up because of last week's This American Life episode, "Death and Taxes." The first part of the program, produced by Nancy Updike, was a deeply moving, semi-autobiographical story about just how hard it is to talk about death, and how unprepared we are to face it. The segment is about forty minutes long, but well worth your precious, precious time. 

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