“Look at [life] like going to a really nice restaurant, you take it as a fact that the meal isn’t going to last forever. Never mind if that’s the way it should be, or whether you feel like you’re owed more meal, or you resent the fact that the meal isn’t eternal. It’s just the case that you have this one meal. So it would make sense, wouldn’t it, to try to suck the marrow out of it? To focus on the flavours? To not let yourself be distracted by irritation at the fact that there’s a woman at the next table wearing too much perfume?” – Lauren Tillinghast, quoted in Oliver Burkeman, The Antidote: Happiness For People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking
I enjoyed this Burkeman book more than I expected I would. I’m not a “happiness” seeker, so I generally avoid books that claim to have all the answers for finding it. This book destroys some of the snake oil salespeople out there while reinforcing some philosophy I happen to embrace, including stoicism and Buddhism. But it’s his chapter on Memento mori and his thoughts on letting death seep back into your life that I found most profound. Readers of this blog know this theme well, but it isn’t a morbid fascination as much as a call to action. So dance today! There are no guarantees of tomorrow.
I’m traveling a lot at the moment. Yesterday Massachusetts, today New York, next week London, then Scotland, and repeat. But start with now, and hope you’re blessed with tomorrow. And today has been very good indeed.
Which brings me back to this Tillinghast quote. Life should be viewed as a great event, and we should live it as grandly as circumstances allow. Have the wine, savor the meal, indulge in some dessert, maybe have a cordial to cap the night. What a wonderful analogy to a lifetime. Always too brief, but a wonderful experience while you’re having it. So I’ll savor this lovely glass of Tuscan Blend and anticipate the meal I’ve ordered with a toast. Propino tibi! I drink to your health!