The liquid-eyed poet John Keats, dead at 25 from tuberculosis: “There is nothing stable in the world; uproar’s your only music.” In the same vein, from an old hymn often sung at funerals I presided over when I was in religious life: “Time, like an ever-rolling stream, / Bears all its sons away; / They fly forgotten, as a dream / Dies at the opening day.” No-one and nothing stay the same. Not even for an instant.
John Bryer played the role of rough-and-tumble union boss for almost 50 years. He died recently, age 82, departing the body while watching television with his fourth wife. Feels like poetry, doesn’t it?
I cannot say, “I am the body.” That is because I am not the body. Neither am I a Volvo C30, even though I drive one. Bodies and cars—they come and go, along with everything else. So the question is, What doesn’t change?
Everything that is prefixed by “my” (my career, my life, my wardrobe) is being withdrawn, passing away, going back to where it came from. I alone remain.
Happiness is the readiness to die, the awareness that living is dying and that without death, there is no beauty, no sweetness.
Oh, what a world! Sex is out of the closet, death is under the bed.