I haven’t seen a lot of deaths yet. I think deaths are really meaningful in 2 major ways: first, if they happened to somebody really close to you. Second, when you reach a certain age, everybody around you starts dropping off, and you are reminded that you are mortal.
With 1 important exception, I haven’t had anybody really close to me die. And even for my grandmother, it was something I had already psychologically prepared for, and for me, her eventual death was the end of a long process that was set off when she fell down and fractured her lumbar. For almost 7 years after that, her eyesight faded, her mobility was almost gone, and at the end she was almost helpless. Spirited yes, but also helpless.
Another death was somebody I had never met, but who I had made an enemy of right from the start. He started a cyberbullying campaign against me, but he messed with the wrong person. I took too long to find out who he was, and he did make things very difficult for me, but eventually he stopped after it had become clear it wasn’t worth it to wage war with me. He died in a car crash. I wasn’t exactly happy that he died but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved. I changed my blog because of him: I originally said that I was quitting blogging: since that didn’t happen, I changed my blog address. Well after I moved to “Mexico”, my blog has been in semi-retirement.
There was the death of somebody who I knew of from my high school. We had mutual friends. She was a lively, crazy girl, but she suffered from depression, apparently. She moved overseas and lived on a farm, and committed suicide.
When I was younger, I thought that it was glamorous that you had all these mad geniuses – Woolf, Dostoevsky, Tesla, Godel, Van Gogh, JF Nash. But now I wonder whether it’s all worth it. I remember fearing the prospect of growing older – say the age that I am now, and not thinking the same way as I did in my youth. Well it’s done, so what the hell. I’m merely content to be eccentric. Why not live a normal life without – well burning out in your youth is definitely unglam for the middle aged person because it means he’d be dead. When you’re young, you think of life as a sprint, and there’s that rush. When you’re young, you’re choosing between sprinting and rushing. When you’re older, you don’t have a choice – you are on a marathon, no ifs or buts. Put in some effort and leave a little bit for tomorrow. Live another day, die another day. I came to admire instead the people who lived long and productive lives – Paul Erdos, Steve Jobs, Ben Franklin. So many people to choose and learn from.
And finally I heard about this friend of mine who died. Well I didn’t know him well either – we had mutual friends. And he seemed like a nice guy, quite a smiley guy. But our last meeting 5 years ago wasn’t that happy – we met in a bookstore and we ended up talking about jazz, and he did say something about going to a jazz club or something, but later on he changed his mind about asking me – maybe what I had to say about jazz made him uncomfortable. Anyway – another one of my acquaintances is dead now.