This count up of days is more accurately a count down of remaining good days. But time has nearly always been important to me. That interest began when I met Richard Black back in, oh it must have been 1986 or 87, when I was working as a nurse’s aid in a convalescent home in Eureka, California. It was a part time, weekend job while I was still in university. Richard was there when I began, though it was months before I met him, as he was housed all alone in an enormous room once used for laundry, and which had been made hastily into somewhere an untouchable person could be kept, the doorknob to his room holding a small red sign emblazoned “caution”. I didn’t know anyone was even in there, until one day when I was assigned to do some task for the occupant. I discovered a man all alone inside, gaunt like a concentration camp survivor—all alone, and with the deepest pain of loneliness in his eyes. Richard Black had AIDS, in a time before effective treatment, and he was dying, and everyone was afraid of him. He had no family and no one ever came to see him, staff only entering and exiting quickly as soon as their duty in that room was complete. This was before the Internet and Richard’s only distraction in that windowless cell was an old television and a remote control. I was afraid too. But I came back.
Every shift I was on I went into Richard’s room and we talked. I was so young then, twenty-two or twenty-three, and death was an impossibly distant thing to me, so very far off in the future, something for the old and unfortunate and nothing for me to really fear—though I did often feel something like fear when I sat and spoke with Richard. As his pain was so deep. Such lonesomeness and fear. Richard was terrified to die. And the fear and the pain seemed to sap every living light from his eyes.
Richard died one day between shifts, and his room was quickly returned to laundry, and his bed given to someone new to die in. But just before he died, the weekend before I think, I’d given to Richard a long poem which I’d written for him while I sat on the sands at the beach where I lived. When I gave him the poem I remember some beach sand spilling from the folded paper onto his clean white sheets. He was almost dead then, and Richard looked at the sand like a man who would never again see sand, or the sky or even sunlight. Richard produced a few weak tears while reading my poem for him. I don’t remember what I wrote, though I do remember the sentiment of gratitude expressed for days, and human connection, and how glad I was that Richard and I had become friends, not considering that I was likely his last and only friend before time finally ran out.
Yes, so here at another beach, thirty-plus years later, I’ll keep in mind the count down of days, and I’ll remember Richard Black, and I will run fast over the sand and dive into the cold sea without fear or hesitation, and in remembrance of Richard, and on his behalf.
The Good Life Meditation is my daily recitation and reminder of personal objectives and principles used in pursuit of a purposeful life in spite of a universe of seeming indifference. Learn more about The Good Life at my website GoingAlone.org or by reading my book Going Alone. And visit our Discord at: https://lnkd.in/gFgfGmY6
OBJECTIVES: 1. Be Always Ready to Die 2. Make Good Use of Time and Resources 3. Develop Good and Sound Life Principles 4. Cultivate Good Emotional Reactions 5. Perform Good Actions 6. Recognize True Limits and Opportunity 7. One Thing Slowly
PRINCIPLES: 1. Principle of War 2. Principle of Reason 3. Homunculus 4. Anchorhold 5. Home of Good and Evil 6. Principle of Purpose 7. Atomic Principle 8. Principle of Nature 9. The Pirate Ride 10. Principle of Maturity 11. Social Principle 12. Public Speaking 13. Temperance 14. Life Will Not Go Well 15. The Horror Show 16. That Which Must Be Borne 17. The Feast of Offal 18. Distraction 19. Agency and The Great Indifference 20. The Best Seat in the House 21. The Restless Man 22. The Path of Wildness 23. The Great Life Adventure 24. The Risk of Avoiding Risk 25. Sin and Damnation 26. Complete Oblivion 27. The Season of Philosophy 28. Bullseye Aim 29. The Uphill Climb 30. Arena and Utility 31. Nothing IS enough 32. The Principle of Fun
My name is Kurt Bell.
You can learn more about The Good Life in my book Going Alone.
Be safe... But not too safe.