Thanks for posting this. My favorite part: "We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out."
He must have been a wonderful person to know—his courage throughout a harrowing illness and his determination to continue living as well as possible despite terrible losses were astonishing and inspiring.
A beautiful essay. Yes, Regina, that was my favorite part as well. I also include the several sentences preceding:
“Kindness” covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts.
Thank you for posting the link to this essay. In the past nine months since my son's death, this is the most comforting thing I have read...and I've done an amazing amount of reading. The vanGogh quote truly helped. My son loved trains. He took photos of trains; he watched trains. Now I can think he has taken the train to the stars. My dearest David St*rk would have preferred that to going on foot.
Thank you for linking to this essay and posting.
I've thought more about death lately, since my own cancer diagnosis and surgery. And not that long ago, both of my parents died. And some others who I loved and respected greatly, and miss.
When I was a young soldier and confronted with possible death, there wasn't much time to think about it. My main regret was, to put my parents through the grief of losing their son. I was sorry for that. But I didn't die then. When AIDS killed off many in my community, the same thought was in my mind, even though I was never infected with that virus.
One of my guiding expressions, these days, is "will I regret on my deathbed ....." That I didn't meet more performance measures at work? That I didn't make more money? That I didn't achieve more? That I didn't rebut an insult? That someone passed me rudely on the road and I didn't respond? No.. Would I regret thinking, the world isn't in same small way better because I existed? Yes. Would I regret letting down, who I love? Yes.
In the same vein, my mantra is Ingersoll's famous quote, which I repeat often:
Justice is the only worship.
Love is the only priest.
Ignorance is the only slavery.
Happiness is the only good.
The time to be happy is now,
The place to be happy is here,
The way to be happy is to make others so.
Wisdom is the science of happiness.