Art of Dying Volume One | Page 15

“ The awareness of death nearby, that there is a given time limit, is a great awakener, it helps me, it concentrates my mind, as we say, very much. Death enlivens me. Why wouldn’t it?  HARRY NORTH Aboutayearago,Ireceivedthedirediagnosis of prostate cancer. My brother had died of this shortly before. This cancer is mercifully slow in a way that gives you time to reflect and see yourself in a different light. There is a definite point when I know it will be painful and uncomfortable; but for now, it’s not really distracting. I am able to do things and I am very engaged in what I’m doing. At the moment, I’m in a very good situation. My brother was very courageous and amazingly kept his sense of humor. He was a good example for me. The actual experience of dying was hard for him at times, but he faced up to it which was wonderful because it has really helped me. I hope that I can do that same for other people. If we get down to doctrine and ideas, the fact that we may not meet the people we have known ever again is a difficult thing. I don’t allow my mind to dwell on it– there’s no point. It would just weaken me and I need to be as strong as possible. I’ve always been aware of death. I don’t think a day goes by that I’ve not been aware of it. I’m inclined to be melancholy and somewhat depressed, but it’s always been this way. If I allowed myself, I would listen to Mahler and fall into that mood very easily, so I made the decision that I wasn’t going to do it because it wasn’t productive, and didn’t help people around me, nor help my own courage. I find that humor, smiling and general goodwill is inspirational l to others. It comes back to me and it’s a lovely thing because I have a lot of people I am very close to. I could be thinking about loss, which, of course, comes up at certain times. It’s there very powerfully, but I don’t give it energy. Now I try to be present and let it work its way through and go off. And then I deliberately try to bring my mood to a positive and happy state. That’s easy at the moment, because the pain is not strong. VOLUME I | 15