The precious thing we do

Dying is the most precious thing that we do, the most important and generative capacity that we share, and it’s the one thing that should restrain our chasing of productivity, status and stuff.

— Kate Bowles, Writing and Dying

I’ve long struggled with the way Western Cultures conceptualise death. Death is something I’ve been forced to come to terms with, to make peace with, and I think I have, but I’ve never been able to externalise that feeling or process. Kate has. This is how I think about death. Inevitable, but often avoidable and sometimes unnecessary at the same time. Giving while at the same time taking. It’s a force within us that’s equal to life itself. It often brings more power and clarity to our decisions. Death is precious, not something to be feared. Respected, acknowledged and contemplated.

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3 thoughts on “The precious thing we do

  1. Tim, thank you. What the events of the past few days have taught me is that dying is an active practice, it’s what we do every single day. And that being the case, how would it change the way that we reflect and act as educators?

    • That’s a great point Kate. When we no longer see death as morbid but as precious in the same way as life it changes our sense of value. It forces use to reconsider not necessarily what or how we care, but what really matters to us. In education that’s a complex discussion because time is involved. What matters isn’t necessarily immediate – in many cases it takes years to manifest.

      • This is a key point. Education as it’s currently setting out its wares is about quick turnaround on gratification: take on debt, get job, pay down debt, win. Competitive thinking accelerates it: get job quicker, start winning sooner, win more. It’s a model of a privatised profit cycle geared for speed.

        And then we die, because all song that’s what we were doing, calmly, steadily, by the minute, by the cell.

        Can we bring these two into alignment? What would that look like? What would we need to do?

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