Doug Bruns

Curiosity has ceased. Contemplation has set in.

In Death, Life, Memoir, The Examined Life on May 21, 2012 at 7:00 am

I’m traveling…er no…got in last night. Late. Jet lagged to nth degree…coffee…

This is a repost.


My cousin said to me a few weeks before she died, “When I come back I’m going to do it differently.” We chuckled over this. Sadly though, it was her confession of remorse, an admission of disappointment over the life she had lived–at least I think that was what she was saying. (The Latin from which the word remorse is derived means literally “to bite back.”) Later, at her death-bed, the pallid riddle was laid out for full inspection. I have to admit, as bad as it sounds, watching the death of my cousin was a curious, even interesting, thing. That was my reaction at the time, at the bedside. I thought it odd then–my reaction–and still do.

I recall that Diane Arbus sneaked into her dead father’s room to photograph his body–odd, yet understandable. My cousin’s death was over a year ago and I find myself thinking about it often, though the spectrum of reflection has shifted. Curiosity has ceased and contemplation has set in. Her death was a study; now it is a meditation. So much has been written on the subject, indeed, everything has been written in the shadow of death. I cannot add an iota of originality to the subject.

I am drawn to the idea of living life in preparation for its end. In some traditions this complex notion is reduced to something so mundane as a rote ideal, a doctrine, in the most extreme instances, denial. I guess there is nothing wrong with that, though mass consumption of rote ideals never seems to turn out as hoped, an observation I believe history supports. I am self-taught at everything so am stubborn as a result. I can’t accept a doctrine so much as rush down a blind alley, take a U-Turn or be lectured to. The big questions generate itches I must contort to reach.

I am reading both Montaigne and Nietzsche so one should not be surprised at such musings.

I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading.

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