Sunday, November 27, 2016

Reflections on mortality

Christopher Eric Hitchens (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011) was an Anglo-American author, columnist, essayist, orator, religious and literary critic, social critic, and journalist; died of oesophageal cancer at 62.

“In one way, I suppose, I have been "in denial" for some time, knowingly burning the candle at both ends and finding that it often gives a lovely light. But for precisely that reason, I can't see myself smiting my brow with shock or hear myself whining about how it's all so unfair: I have been taunting the Reaper into taking a free scythe in my direction and have now succumbed to something so predictable and banal that it bores even me.”

The iconic writer and journalist, staunch atheist and namesake of the Hitch Slap openly ‘resisted’ (his preference to the word ‘battle’) cancer, and was refreshingly honest about his feelings on looking at death.

In the summer of 2010, during a promotional tour for Hitch-22, he was diagnosed with terminal oesophageal cancer, a disease that had killed his father at a much more advanced age.

He inhabited "Tumourville", as he called it, with rueful wit and little self-pity.
"In whatever kind of a 'race' life may be," he wrote, "I have abruptly become a finalist."

"To the dumb question 'Why me?', the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply, 'Why not?'" - source

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“At a certain point, if you still have your marbles and are not faced with serious financial challenges, you have a chance to put your house in order. It’s a cliché, but it’s underestimated as an analgesic on all levels.”

Leonard Cohen (September 21, 1934 – November 7, 2016)

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“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”
Mark Twain (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910)

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“If you hang out at a hospital long enough you’ll see things that will remind that you had a lucky life. If you can see at all, you’ve had a lucky life. I don’t complain; I’m lucky. I’m getting near what my friend calls the ‘departure lounge’, but I’ve got a version of it that doesn’t hurt, so I may as well enjoy myself while I can.”

Clive James (born Vivian Leopold James, 7 October 1939), an Australian author, critic, broadcaster, poet, translator and memoirist

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“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me”.

“Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

Steve Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011)

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“I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state.”

One of the world’s most prolific film critics lived with cancer of the thyroid and salivary glands for 11 years – the disease cost him his lower jaw and his ability to eat and speak normally. But it couldn’t take away his pen and throughout his battle he faced the process with gratitude:
“What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can't say it wasn't interesting. My lifetime's memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.”

Roger Joseph Ebert (June 18, 1942 – April 4, 2013) was an American film critic and historian, journalist, screenwriter, and author.

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“I don’t have a problem with ageing - in fact, I embrace that aspect of it. And am able to and obviously am going to be able to quite easily … it doesn’t faze me at all. It’s the death part that’s really a drag...life is a finite thing.”

David Bowie (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016)

Talking to the BBC, longtime friend Brian Eno shared his last correspondence with Bowie before he died,
“I received an email from him seven days ago...It ended with this sentence: ‘Thank you for our good times, Brian. they will never rot’. And it was signed ‘Dawn’. I realise now he was saying goodbye.”

source: Reflections on mortality from the greats

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