Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
‘Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.’
–Robert Louis Stevenson
This is important: Everything that matters in human life is to be found to the right of the zero on the number line. Zero is never greater than one, so concentrating on the zero or on negative values is necessarily anegoic — contrary to the true interests of the ego.
Can it sometimes be needful to attend to negative values? Yes. I speak of eradicating bugs all the time, since this is a useful metaphor for understanding the actual meaning and importance of disvalues. If my food is being devoured by ants, I need to to exterminate them. If there is a scorpion in my home (it happens here), I have to crush it — grind it to a gooey pulp. If a two-legged predator attempts to confiscate my wealth, I must be prepared to defend myself.
But this is not what human life is for. Some days are cloudy, but if I focus on the clouds rather than on the illimitable sunlight I can produce by using my mind to its fullest, I am throwing away the only life I will ever have in pursuit of nothing.
But: Even so: I can foresee that there will come a time in my life when the pursuit of Splendor will no longer be possible to me. Until lately, I thought the most likely scenario would be that the accumulated effects of aging would render me incompetent to continue to thrive at a fully-human state of being. Given the resurgence of Marxism under President Obama, it seems plausible to me, of late, that I might be imprisoned for my philosophical positions. And there is also the possibility that I might someday find myself unable to produce more wealth that I consume. The most likely cause of this would be the government’s progressive destruction of the free economy, but I refuse to live at anyone else’s expense no matter what the cause of my poverty might be.
In any of those circumstances, and others I can conceive of, I do not plan to remain alive. This is not a worship of the zero, but, rather, an acknowledgement that, when all future outcomes come out to zero or less, a free and rational man will have a plan to avoid descending into the squalor of indecision and inaction, the kind of undignified clinging to life that I already see much too much of. When every beauty and grace of human life is gone from my life, I have a plan to make my exit from life as beautifully and as gracefully as I can. I won’t bore you with the details. It is sufficient to say that I have a plan in place, and I have worked out how I plan to accomplish my voluntary demise in any circumstance I might face.
Why talk about it? Because I think it’s a good idea, that’s why. You were born through no design of your own, and you were born into both the squalor of your own filth and the squalor of an unchosen dependency. You have no reason to die that way — and if reason means anything at all, you should not die that way. For each of us, there will come a time when the only act of Splendor left to us will be to die as we have lived — fully-conscious, fully-engaged, fully-human.
I suppose this post might seem very far from real estate, but I do not share that view. A cultivated human life has integrity: Every seemingly disparate thing is in fact the expression of the same one idea. I’ve lived my entire life hewing to my own standards and values, and I do not intend to die any other way. If you live the thoughtful life, the contemplative life, the examined life, then this is something you need to think about.