Bad news can be hard to face

“Is bad news coming to you regularly?” asks a recent business article about CEOs.

Although I’m not a CEO—which itself seems like bad news—I nod yes.

“Good,” continues the article. “That’s a sign of success. There’s plenty of bad news out there, the only question is whether you’re aware of it.”

I’m aware of it.

But some days it’s hard to face reality.

I read about a monastery that tried to do something about that. When the monks passed each other in the hallway, they’d say, “Remember Brother, you are going to die.”


That’s less cheerful than “Good morning,” so this greeting is unlikely to become wildly popular.

If someone told me I was about to die—I’m highly suggestible—I’d immediately spring to life and jump into the nearest ambulance.

Still, I admire the paradoxical intent: by facing impermanence, daily, you deepen your appreciation for everyday life.

That’s what Steve Jobs believed. “Remembering that you are going to die,” he said, “is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”

We mourn his loss.

© Copyright 2011 Paul Hellman. All rights reserved.

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