Category: Meaning of Life
Almost a nightmare tonight. I flew into St. Louis at 11:30 pm, and I was tired. I found my car at the airport and was driving about 60 mpg in the center lane of Hwy 70 toward downtown. Coming around a curve in the highway I though I saw something, and a split second later I DID see that it a man slowly walking across my lane. He was wearing a dark red top and black pants. I gave the wheel a slight nudge to the left, but not a hard tug for fear of rolling the car over. I ended up on the left side of my center lane, and missed hitting the man by less than a foot. There was no time to hit the brakes. He was not looking toward me when I almost hit him. I don’t know whether he was drunk or mentally ill. I found myself shaken up, and thanking my stars for both him and me. A couple minutes later, I thought of calling the police, but the man would have made it across the highway, or not, by then. You just don’t expect to see a person walking on a dark superhighway at night, so when I first thought I saw him, I couldn’t immediately process that it could be a person. looking back, I now see that I made an almost unconscious decision that I would not flip my car (probably a suicidal maneuver) in order to save this man. It’s a disturbing thought, made only a bit less disturbing by the fact that the entire episode lasted 2 seconds, making it impossible for me to think things through in real time.
And now, back home, I once again remind myself that an avoided tragedy is a great gift. What happened is the equivalent of me striking and killing a man on the highway, and then a magic genie coming along and using magic to undo the damage. I came so close to striking the man that it almost seems like I DID strike him . . .
Sam Harris will soon be writing a book to argue for a legitimate secular use of the word “spiritual.” In this article, he points out that many atheists have used the term, pointing out some distinctions along the way.
As Lee Camp says, the sheep have good excuses for falling in line. People allow TV commercials tell them how to live their lives. It’s not that the commercials directly tell you what to do, but that when you think that you need to buy things you don’t need, you have committed yourself to a series of bad choices, often including a job you work for the money only.
People in La Crosse, Wisconsin are used to talking about death. In fact, 96 percent of people who die in this small, Midwestern city have specific directions laid out for when they pass. That number is astounding. Nationwide, it’s more like 50 percent.
In today’s episode, we’ll take you to a place where dying has become acceptable dinner conversation for teenagers and senior citizens alike. A place that also happens to have the lowest healthcare spending of any region in the country.
This piece reminds me that one of the main problems with the United States is that we cannot have meaningful conversations. This is refreshingly different. And important: One-quarter of health care spending occurs in the last year of life.
At the NYT, Pamela Druckerman tells us some of the lessons we finally pick up in mid-life. Many of these are easier to state than to put into practice, but it’s a worthy list.
If you worry less about what people think of you, you can pick up an astonishing amount of information about them. You no longer leave conversations wondering what just happened. Other people’s minds and motives are finally revealed.
People are constantly trying to shape how you view them. In certain extreme cases, they seem to be transmitting a personal motto, such as “I have a relaxed parenting style!”; “I earn in the low six figures!”; “I’m authentic and don’t try to project an image!”
Eight hours of continuous, unmedicated sleep is one of life’s great pleasures. Actually, scratch “unmedicated.”
I posted this at Facebook, and a friend posted an article titled, “What you Learn when You’re 60.” It contains a lot more good advice, including the following:
Death is not distant, it’s inevitable, and ever-closer.
No one knows anything. Confidence is a front. Everybody is insecure.
No one cares about your SAT scores unless they aced the test.
We’re all lonely looking to be connected. . . .
You’re never going to recover from some physical ills, aches and pains are part of the process of dying, and that’s what you’re doing, every day.
I was an early kickstart investor in a most unusual wristwatch, meaning that I bought one of these watches at a discount. This device was recently featured in The Atlantic:
A new watch called Tikker claims to have created a way to calculate approximately when, according to its creators, a person is likely to die, and then to input that date into a wristwatch. The idea is that being constantly reminded of his or her own mortality will nudge the wearer to live life to the fullest.
Here’s Tikker’s own website featuring its watch.
I’ve thought that it would be a good idea to have one these devices ever since a friend of mine (Tom Ball) told me 30 years ago that it would be cool to have a watch that ran backwards, estimating the amount of time you had to live. He said that when you found yourself at a boring party, you would glance at your backwards-running watch and say, “Sorry, I’ve got to go. I’ve only got X years to live.”
This device will soon be mine, and I’ll see whether I cherish it or whether it annoys me.