Epicureanism and death

At the beginning of his autobiography “Speak, Memory”, Vladimir Nabokov writes:

“The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness ……Nature expects a full-grown man to accept the two black voids, fore and aft, as stolidly as he accepts the extraordinary visions in between.”

This is a crucial point of Epicureanism: to accept the two black voids fore and aft as a natural and inevitable part of life.

So you strut and fret your way upon the stage and then are heard no more. It is therefore valid to ask yourself, “Have I led a happy and productive life? For the brief time during which I will be remembered, will it be with affection, with respect for achievement, or simply for being a kind, decent person, thoughtful of others, dismayed at poverty and injustice, generous and kind, and with a sense of humour?

If none of the above, think hard about your life, because it is a waste if you depart an unfeeling nonentity. For depart you surely will, and the shock of death is more acceptable if you feel you have lived decently and well.

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