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STOIC POETRY | Thinking chicken

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

October 14, 2019

Dear Eric,

What did you wonder over as you walked quietly to your death? I like to imagine you thought of the egg-laying hen which lived out back of your home in Eureka. Joe Bob was gone, and you knew you'd see him soon... All the people in your life were settled with the truth - as unsettling as it was - and you needn't worry any more about us. Your estate... What of it? Not even a thought. But that chicken out back in your yard...the egg-laying hen you both loved; she's one you would have thought over. I hope you found her a new home in time... If not, then you would certainly have been thinking chicken on your way to die.

"Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail.” - Henry David Thoreau

But it's our stuff, and our busyness about it all which helps keep back the dark. Not the true dark, we can't so easily forget that; but the immediate darkness, the faint black all around which might remind us that we are alone in this night, despite the candles each of us carry and protect. Slight flames, guttering in the desert winds, winds that always somehow blow into the deeper depths of the wastes; blowing in the direction we'd better not go; blowing to where the black is more natural and settled and less easily persuaded to move or to be set aside. It's the stuff we collect and possess which seems to guard us from this wind. And it's our busyness about this stuff which distracts us from what is coming, and what has already come, and what was here yesterday and always. It's the stuff and our attendance which helps us to remember the fantasy that we are not truly alone.

I had a thief break-in and relieve me of possessions I hardly knew I didn't need. I'm grateful for what he didn't leave behind.

And so, we build our shelter and linger within to protect our little flame; and we acquire things and place them all about to fortify our claims to now and forever. We might even utterly surround our candle with stuff enough that the flame seems truly safe from the wind, and we can fool ourselves that it will not go out. What a game that... Living as though the wind cannot get in. Living while peeking outside through the very cracks and chinks which betray our flame's vulnerability. The wind WILL get in. It's in now, even. How much better, and more honest, and more to the point, would it be to step outside the shelter, or let the structure blow away; to then stand in the wind with just our cupped hand protecting the little flame. How much more honest a life could we possibly live and endure. And such a living...


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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