Monday, March 7, 2011

Random Law School Update 22

Last Location: Washington, DC
Arrival Date: January 15, 2011
Departure Date: March 6, 2011

Current Location: New York City, NY
Arrival Date: March 6, 2011
Departure Date: March 9, 2011

Next Location: Wilmington, DE
Arrival Date: March 9, 2011
Departure Date: March 9, 2011

A friend and I were discussing life and death just a few days before Bethany passed away. He made the point that death, being the most extreme thing one will ever experience, motivates life because it sheds perspective on the relative lack of extremeness of everything short of death and thus inspires one to take life-enhancing risks. I agreed in part, but countered that death is actually one of the least extreme human experiences. It is the one thing that every person, animal, plant, and living organism is guaranteed to do. The old, the young, the rich, the poor, the genuine, the contrived, the brave, the scared, the risk-takers and the risk-avoiders, they all die. Even the types of living things that are never born will eventually die. It is absolutely ordinary, normal, expected, required. It consumes only one moment massively outnumbered by the many many moments of life that precede it. Death is not extreme. It is quintessentially status quo.

It is this characteristic of death that motivates life because it sheds perspective on the relative extremeness of every moment preceding it. Each and every moment in which we live is at least as significant, as important, as the single moment in which we die. Each moment preceding death is an unknown, an opportunity to learn, love, improve, experience. I take risks because, while my death is inevitable, every other moment of my life is within my power to affect.

Now consider that despite (or perhaps in keeping with) being status quo, death is almost always available as worst-case scenario. Worst, not because it is extreme or necessarily bad, but merely because it is always available. Such that, to the extent that I suffer, it is because I value that suffering, or at least value highly the pleasure that I expect to follow it--that pleasure being all the greater when contrasted with the expectation-resetting pain that preceded it. What matters isn't so much that each moment of life is painless, but that it is more extreme, more interesting, more significant than death. For this reason I wonder if death, as the lowest bar on which to improve, is more a friend than an enemy to life.

Bethany's official DC memorial party was Saturday night. It was held at a wonderfully lavish local called Elizabeth's Gone Raw. I had the pleasure of meeting her mother, father, sister and other members of her close circle. It was comforting, light and optimistic; just like Bethany.

Short of Bethany's passing, the past month has been delightful. Busy, but delightful. I was in a school play. It was magical and mildly reminiscent of my high school theater days, which I remember fondly. I would like to recount the month in more detail, but even the start of Spring Break leaves little time for articulation. In November, I foreshadowed that last semester would be one of the most exciting of my life. This semester is already significantly more exciting and it is less than halfway in. It is as if everything is going according to a perfectly devised plan in which I have maintained just enough uncertainty to keep me on my toes.




travel man said...

There are a lot of fun things to do on Cape Cod. It is an exciting place where you can find amazing beaches, great lodging, good food and wonderful people!

Mike said...

Loss and possession, death and life are one...There falls no shadow, where there shines no sun.