How much we need to work through, how many forms of
living we try on, like suits of clothes, before finding the
right one, or at least the one that is least uncomfortable.
And death, no doubt, follows shortly afterwards. In this
sense, all life is indeed a preparing for death: the flesh
must be burned through, layer by layer, in order to purify
the soul for the next stage of its journey. With what relief
it must, at last, lose that weight, rising in wonderful
lightness, like an astronaut on the moon.
Life as a surgical boot on the leg of the soul.
‘I’ve never got my act together,’ said Anthony Hopkins,
wonderfully, in an interview once. ‘There is no act to get
together. My life is none of my business.’ This calls to
mind the character in The Bell by Iris Murdoch who says
that the chief requirement of the good life is to live
without any image of oneself. Impossible, of course; but it
should be possible to be less preoccupied with how one
appears to other people.