Life floored me a little yesterday when, after my swim, I met a broken seagull all alone on the sand, dragging a bloody wing across the beach, staring at the setting sun, utterly vulnerable and all alone. I had no idea then what to do. I looked in vain for a red lifeguard truck patrolling the beach, though it seemed they were done for the night. The broken gull was wary and moved away when I got closer for a better look. I was heartbroken and in despair about the situation and my inability to help. I thought briefly of animal control, but did they help seagulls? And past experience suggested they were not available after hours. Nightfall was soon, and then the coyotes would come—yes, they patrol the beach here—and the seagull’s suffering would then quickly end. I felt grateful for the predators, and how they could bring fast relief to the weak and suffering. It’s horror to be sure, but effective horror. I left the beach feeling awful, giving one last, painful, glance back at the broken bird all alone on the sand. Nature had its way of handling this, I told myself. Feeling sick inside, I got on my motorcycle to ride home.
A half mile down the road I stopped in a line of cars at a red light. Immediately to my right was an animal control truck with an officer sitting inside doing paperwork. There was an empty parking space just in front of his truck, parking spaces at the beach are a rare thing and this one was just big enough for my motorcycle. A swung in, parked, took off my helmet and walked back. The officer rolled down his window and I explained to him about the seagull. He said he could definitely help, and after I explained where the bird was—100 feet south of lifeguard tower 18, where seventeenth street meets the sand—he said he knew the exact spot and would go there now, and he did! I don’t know if he could actually help the bird, and maybe he simply played a more humane role of coyote. But it sure felt good knowing someone in authority had the issue covered, and was on the case.
Later, during our evening dog walk, Yumiko asked me if the amazing coincidence of stopping beside the animal control truck with a motorcycle-sized parking spot in front might convince me that God exists? I told her it didn’t, but I did share with her a thought I’d had out there on the beach about how nice it must be for believers to have a supernatural agency to appeal to during times of distress and when we feel helpless—how nice it must be to think or say “It’s in God’s hands whatever the outcome,” or better still to imagine such suffering is part of a greater plan we simply do not understand. Indeed, it’s tough sometimes having no such recourse to peace, no relief from the horror of life or comfort that things might be alright in the end.
Yumiko agreed. But though we have no God, at least she and I have each other to stave off the coming night. And I’m glad for the terrific coincidence that allowed some relief last night to be delivered to a seagull in distress. But I’m also ready—I hope—to face down the horror without these comforts or relief. I am ready—I hope—to go into the good night alone.
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.