Fearing death and facing death

September 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

On the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, tributes and remembrances abound, as they should. We learn by remembering.

As a resident of lower Manhattan, I am surrounded by the spirit(s) of those who gave their lives on that defining day. Like all New Yorkers, the awful sights, sounds and smells of that day are seared into my mind. I flew back to New York from London on September 10th, 2001, casually admiring the majestic towers on the drive into Manhattan. The fact that those twin icons would vanish 24 hours later was unthinkable.

On that crisp and beautiful morning, I was leaving for a meeting at 7 World Trade Center, when a family member called and told me to turn on the television. I did. And everything changed, forever.

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The black curtain

February 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Soon it comes to every person, see it happen in one black curtain. – Paul Pissarro, 7

Death is ever-present and life is ever-shrinking. For some, death is an obsession, for others, barely an afterthought. To most who contemplate it, the concept of eternal non-existence, of life book-ended by nothingness, is unfathomable and horrifying. We are programmed to rage against oblivion. That’s what the vast majority of us do.

Death is life’s greatest motivator, for good and evil, fueling our futile quest to ‘matter’ – futile, because the people we seek to matter to are themselves reaching out to us to give them meaning. It’s like two jumpers hurtling to earth, each reaching for the other, but neither with a foothold and both doomed to the same end. Some try to matter by helping others, some by hurting others, all with the desire to be remembered, to bridge an unbridgeable gap, to leave some kind of a mark, to prove that they existed.

Humans are impossibly lonely creatures, staring forlornly into time and space, without an anchor or a reference point, probing the depths of physics, philosophy, psychology, poetry, but forever bumping up against the unknowable.

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