I Am Dying, Therefore I Speak Truthfully
Cogito ergo sum is a Latin philosophical proposition written in the 17th century by René Descartes in his Principles of Philosophy. It is usually translated into English as “I think, therefore I am.” This proposition became a fundamental element of Western philosophy. I remember reading Descartes by flashlight, under the covers so as to not disturb my brother, in eleventh grade. I haven’t thought of him since then. Until now. For whatever reason, his proposition came to mind as I was searching for a title, and the spine, of this article. Thank you, M. Descartes, for catalyzing both the title and spine!
Ego morior ergo ego loquor veroo. “I am dying, therefore I speak truthfully.” This has become my fundamental philosophical and existential proposition. This proposition has become embedded in me, everywhere, in every nook and cranny. It not only lives in me, it lives me.
I am dying. Often, when we hear someone say this, we think they have maybe a few months, or weeks, or days — maybe even hours. Death, as an event, will soon be upon him or her who is dying. But death is not only an event; it is also a process, one which begins at the very moment of our conception. From the first spark of life, death is also born. Life and death go hand in hand as secret lovers, one more visible than the other, but both equally bright and real and playful. Most of us live only with death as an event, and we are usually shocked or saddened when this occurs. For me, death as a process has become stunningly vivid and present; with each breath I take, with each passing second, I feel death as a process surround me, enter me, flow through me. It announces itself, quietly, yes, but emphatically too. I live with this constant knowledge, or knowing, that I am dying. I don’t know when death as an event will occur, but living in death as a process tells me that my living, now, my living today, my living in and at this moment, should be as if the event were at hand. Robert, you are dying; in a moment you will be dead. Now what? What do you have to say, now, with your death upon you, with nothing to protect or acquire, with no more time to fulfill desires, to chase things or run from them.
This is a time of reckoning. This is no time to bluff the house. The house always wins, doesn’t it? Now. What’s your play? This is what I hear, moment to moment. You are dying and now death is upon you. What’s your play?
Speaking, to me, is more than what we say, verbally and nonverbally. Speaking Truthfully, the work I offer to others, is more than effective, inspiring stage skill and craft; it is more than being able to communicate to others in a truly rousing manner.
Speaking, and Speaking Truthfully, are both the total sum of who we are, from the deepest unknown to the mundane to the cosmic, fully and authentically expressed. Yes, if there is something we can all agree on with respect to life, it would be that life is creative and expressive. Life creates and it does not hide its creations. They are spread out in numberless dimensions and are uncountable by any means. And we, my dear, are that life. Now, Robert, you are dying and death is upon you. What is your play? How big, how real, how magnificent, how stunningly present are you going to be? What kind of ambassador of life will you be now?
The world “primal” means essential, fundamental. I want to speak the language of my primal self. I want something more essential, more fundamental, and closer to life than all the influences I’ve been shaped by, than all the words and ideas I’ve collected. I want another language now, to speak truthfully as I am dying.
I want only what is wild and utterly free, dangerously so, that inhabits me, as life, now that I am dying and as I die. Freedom. From all the influences and suggestions and taboos and prohibitions. I want freedom. Life is free. No Buddhists, no Jews, no shamans, saints, or sages, no love and light, no be good, do good — none of that. No prescriptions, however sacred and ancient. That’s all made up. I don’t want that. I don’t want security or safety, not now. I don’t want to be liked or understood. I don’t care about a legacy of good deeds. I just want life, pure, unfiltered, galactic and gigantic and free and wild and so gorgeous. Oh my. I can’t even breathe, it’s too beautiful. I don’t want peace and silence and happiness. No. I am glad to know I am dying, that death is upon me. Without this certainly in my bones, my life would be just a hallucination. Let me speak truthfully, with life providing the dictionary, the grammar, the syntax. No one else.
I am dying, and therefore I speak truthfully. I want to. I want to. What is your play, now, Robert? How big? How small? How real? Tell me. Show me. This is life, asking you.