19 June 2011

Root of Dignity

Ergun Çoruh asks
What does it take
to live a dignified life?
I dunno. Do you?

I don’t know how to live life with dignity. I have imagined a dignified death.

I have thought of death as a culmination of a backpacking trip -- a trip where I have been packing the molecules my mind has convinced me is my body.

There's comfort in the notion that whatever was carried into the world by me and my antecedents would be recycled, or carried out, in a stubbornly efficient mass balance. Carried out not by me, rather carried out by co-dependent opportunistic species -- like carrion beetles.

I don’t know how to live life with dignity.

I wrote a poem called Kicking Horse that is ostensibly about a dignified death in the wilderness. My poem celebrates the great unknown -- where I treat the great unknown, perhaps naively, as something more than the stark finality of decomposition.

Kicking Horse
Saint Paul, 24 May 2005
Remembering Richard Hugo's poems

I rest my pikestaff
Against a granite colossus
In defiance, a toast
I tip a metal flask of Jack
To the wilderness

Now reclined
On the cobbled banks
Of the Kicking Horse Reservoir
Sun morsels desert my pupils
I cook until dusk

In the mackinaw of nightfall
Conferences of carrion beetles
Prepare their nurseries
Opening my eye sockets
To some star-lit destiny

The title Kicking Horse is borrowed from poet Richard Hugo. Nominated for a National Book Award, The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir contains many of Richard Hugo's most loved and anthologized poems.


Learning to live a life with dignity would seem to require the experience of living. Learning to live a life with dignity also seems to require introspective thinking.

Introspective thinking is not idle navel gazing. Rather it is the requisite time to reconcile heady stuff like what is the nature of reality?
Becoming a witness to yourself gives you the lens of objectivity with which to test the comfort of your own reality.
~John Maeda
Part of living life with dignity is having a sense of what's fair.
I have come to think of fairness as a sort of social mass balance.
John Maeda says in his post Father as Leader
...what I believe is important in a leader -- being someone that consistently gives, instead of just takes...
I don’t know how to live life with dignity, but fairness seems to be at the root of dignity.

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