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STOIC POETRY | Steve Irwin, dead at forty-four

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

October 25, 2019

Dear Eric,

Though you lived few years, I think you lived many days. As you were around much during the time when you were here, though you were not here very long...

What matters a long life if the living is only to pass the time? What kind of living is it to exist in a bunker against the light, with the windows covered and the candles snuffed out? That is an extreme example, of course - as even the most cautious among us live largely in the open. But there is a refuge within the mind that is not unlike a war bunker. It is a place to retreat and hide and stay safe while the world swirls and grinds and churns and makes scary noises - and where we can stay safe even when it doesn't. "Take care" we say and "stay safe" while we walk together out in the open - all the while peeking from behind heavy blinders within the mind. I'm not saying this is a bad thing necessarily; as the world is indeed a dangerous place... The swirls and grinds and churns and scary noises are quite real, out there. But, so too is the stillness and the quiet and the mute empty of retreat.

Would you trade some years of life For some days of living?

Would I rather live long in the dark or die soon in the light? But maybe, I can convince myself that the darkness is not really so dark after all? Longevity is the thing... Grandma lived to a ripe old age of one-hundred and five! What a dear life... So many years. Steve Irwin lived to be only forty-four... Such a short life... So few years.

I am not suggesting that we die young. Or that we turn our noses on long life and take scary risks. But only that instead of asking after the number of our years we instead inquire as to their quality. How well did grandma live according to grandma's own estimation? If she reckoned her one-hundred and five years mostly well-spent, then what a well-lived life, indeed. I suspect Steve Irwin would not reckon his short life a poor one. Likewise, what a well-lived life, indeed.

And now, what about us..? If you are now reading this - as I am now writing it, and thinking these thoughts over - then we each have some time yet to live. What is a good use of time now and tomorrow? How well can we live out these days? What efforts to pursue virtue?

How to best pursue and live The Good Life?


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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