I’ve been going back through Ftrain thanks to Paul Ford’s talk at XOXO, and there’s a wondrous archive bundled up in this old site of his—years and years of journal entries. This post about his grandfather’s funeral is particularly eye-popping:
Do you mind if I tell you, while I have your ear? All of this, the funeral, the family, the sudden reminder that life ends, it makes me realize how ignorant I am. I'm so sure I'm clever and sophisticated, a smug little agnostic, but put me face forward with death, and I don't know my right from my north. All the rules for social interaction, all the solid clues and codes and handshakes sublimate into the air. Well-written proposals, a steady paycheck, making rent, building the next generation of web sites--these things don't hold up next to death. Death blows them over like a hurricane through a shantytown.
In the talk, Paul also mentions a poem by the 13th century Persian poet Jelaluddin Rumi called the Guest House. It feels somewhat complimentary to what Paul wrote above:
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This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.