Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Life and Death

It is fortunate that Jews don't believe in reincarnation. If we did, then being born would come shortly after having died in a previous life. Which would mean that a birthday would also be a yahrzeit which would just be tacky. I like it the way we have it. You get one shot at it, you do the best you can with it, then fertik.

I am always bemused by my and everyone else's fear of death and desire for medical care and long life, followed by days consciously wasted. I do it. You do it. Everybody does it.

If we are so afraid of death, why do we piss away our lives? I don't know what life is supposed to be about nor what exactly constitutes not pissing away days.

But I know very clearly what does constitute pissing away a day. And I still do it all the time. I have done it repeatedly on this trip. I do it constantly at home. Promising myself to live a more active life is much like promising myself to go on a diet - long on promising, short on delivery.

Aristotle says that the way to live a good life is to acquire virtuous habits through practice. By practicing virtuous habits, they eventually become second nature, habitual, done without effort. He may be right. Nothing else seems to work.

My sister Gail replies:
If you have no regrets, then it is not pissing away a day. If you regret not doing something else then maybe it is a day pissed away. The Jewish ethic is that you should first do no harm, if you do, then make amends, if you have a talent it is a sin to not nurture it, if you have much, it is good to share with those who have little. You do not have to do these things every day but enough to not have regrets. A life well lived includes sometimes just lying on the couch and reading something interesting.

The wisdom of 73 years and still learning.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with Gail....some days just lying around reading is the best thing to's about passively learning. A book a day keeps the Alzheimer's away? But you have to wiggle while you're reading so you're not inactive.

    Where are you now? How is your bike journey going?