“Life is Meant to be Spent.” -N. D. Wilson
Not many people like to think about death, let alone talk about it, or if they do it’s so they can seem artistically grim and realistic. Particularly in the West, generally, and America more specifically. But death is a central element in life, one of the greatest (in the old sense of the word). Death is the great climactic scene in every life, from an old librarian dying in a comfortable room, to a young Corporal dying on the battlefield.
So any author who wishes to write about life must write about death. What it is, why it is, and how we should live in light of its reality. I have not read a better contemporary meditation on death than N.D. Wilson’s Death by Living. While some writers wrestle with big questions, Wilson comes nearer to bar room brawls–cracked dishes, broken bottles strewn about, bloody noses, and sore knuckles. It is a fierce delight.
Here is a taste:
“Time is that harsh current that thrusts us down the rapids of narrative causation. Every moment leads to another moment and those moments pile together, boiling and rolling in falls, creasing skin and blinding eyes and breaking bones and wiping minds. Why are we old? Because we were young. Why do we die? Because we lived. Why am I here? Because I was there. You cannot stop yourself from aging, which is to say that you cannot sub out of this extremely rough, full-contact (no pads) game. You cannot throw a diva fit backstage in this production and force the understudy to take your place. You are in every scene. You are on the field for every play. And you go into the next one and the next one and the next one carrying the baggage and the wounds and the weariness of the last one and the last one and the last one.
Time is rough on mortals. That roughness is what sent Solomon to his pen. Read Ecclesiastes and feel the ache he had in his chest as he, the most powerful potentate on his half of the planet, chased after the vapor of life with words, unable to capture time and slow it down, but able to grasp futility, because all we need for that is empty hands.”
My brother wrote this post & offered a hardback of the book to give to one of you lovely readers. Simply sign up for my newsletter or share this page. (Let me know in the comments how many times you shared it and if you signed up for the newsletter. You will receive an entry for each one.)
My brother introduced me to N. D. Wilson’s writings years ago, so I was looking forward to the release of this book almost as much as he was. It did not disappoint. After attending my uncle’s funeral yesterday, I am reminded how important this book is.
What are your thoughts about death? Do you talk about it? I’d love for you to share a quote that has impacted your views about death.
Here’s mine: “Death is but the next great adventure.” -J.K. Rowling