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STOIC POETRY | A plan of life and death

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

October 19, 2019

Dear Eric,

I write these words now almost twenty years to the day since I completed my story of you and Joe-Bob, sharing the impact of your living and dying upon my own life. Your example, in fact, derailed my life; as I am confident I would be a quite different person now if not for the experience of knowing you both, and watching you live and choose to exit life together on account of principles which you held and which I could not then understand—which perhaps I still do not understand. Just as I do not understand the principles which others also hold dear, such as the religious, who hold values which sometimes rest upon a foundation of something they call faith. This approach of belief and values based on faith is alien to me, and seems lazy, and dull, and an easy way out of the harder challenge of attempting to understand. Just as the structure of reality which you and Joe-Bob maintained as real was—and remains—alien to me. And yet, like the religious, you had set-up an entire plan and project of your lives together based on that alien reality which you maintained as real. This was the thing which struck me then... The idea of building a life model upon which we might base our living and apply value and meaning to our decisions and actions. Such as the decision you made to follow Joe-Bob into death, a decision founded upon principles which—regardless of what I might think—provided both of you with a sense of meaning to your lives…and your deaths. Your lives had purpose. You had a reason to live and to die even. You had something larger than yourselves to strive for. And this is what others also seem to gain from their own endeavors at organizing their lives around a plan, and perhaps a story, and maybe even a fairytale which may do no more than comfort and seemingly keep the believer safe from the night. The night which is real. The night which must always come—and against which we might build a fortress of comfort, despite the fortress not being real, or of much substance, or of much truth. For the fortress need not last any longer than us. The vain fortress is welcome to fail after we are gone. Our stories need last no longer than there is someone to remember and relate the tale.

And so, after the death of my friends I decided to set out to create and tell a story of my own. A story which must be based on truth. A story founded on what I take to be real. My story would tolerate no comforting nonsense—as I’d prefer the dark and the night and the cold, if this be true, to any artificial light, or day or warmth which may be false, and which might only distract and keep back the night and the sound of the howling out there further than I might ever have courage to go. I resolved then to not keep back the dark, and to go—alone—into the dark, and to not take any light, or flame, or anything of comfort, and to stay longer there than perhaps I should, and then to come back and consider, set down and tell the story of what I’d found—or hadn’t. A story which I maintain as true. A story of my Going Alone. And of The Good Life I now attempt to live.


My name is Kurt Bell.

You can learn more about The Good Life in my book Going Alone.

Be safe... But not too safe.

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