…will tell others you were here and that you tried to make the world a better place.

I don’t only read the New York Times, although it does seem that way sometimes, often in fact, like right now when the “fake news of the failing Times” has become President Trump’s principal target.

I did mark the passage below, not from the Times, but from James Lee Burke’s novel, Swan Peak, which I just finished on my iPhone.


AT A CERTAIN time in your life,

you think about death in a serious way, and you think about it often. You see your eyes and mouth impacted by dirt, your clothes a moldy receptacle for water leaking through the topsoil. You see a frozen mound backlit by a wintry sky, a plain of brown grass with tumbleweed bouncing across it. Inside the mound, if your ears could hear, they would tell you the shovel that raises you into light again will do so only for reasons of scientific curiosity.

When you see these images in your sleep or experience them in your waking day, you know they do not represent a negotiable fate. The images are indeed your future, and no exception will be made for you.

During these moments, when you try to push away these images from the edges of your vision, you have one urge only, and that is to somehow leave behind a gesture, a cipher carved on a rock, a good deed, some visible scratch on history that will tell others you were here and that you tried to make the world a better place.


The great joke is that any wisdom most of us acquire can seldom be passed on to others. I suspect this reality is at the heart of most old people’s anger.

Yes, but for me impatience, and frustration, not yet anger. But that may still come.

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