Before it goes dark, let’s live

candle smoke

Photo: The Ewan.

For my initial forty years on Earth, I was an unrepentant idealist.

Surrounded by students I loved, pursuing a life of excellence rooted in inquiry, striving to serve humanity and the living planet, I cared about humans and other species to the point of heartbreak. I pinned my dreams on people and believed they would rise to the occasion.

No more. Color me cynical in the spirit of comedian George Carlin, who died in 2008: “Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist.”

Perhaps paradoxically, however, I view awareness as a gift. As a result, I continue to bear witness to the horrors of industrial civilization, fully knowing my words bring despair to myself and others.

Accepting our mortality as a gift is hardly a new idea. Social critic Jonathan Swift poignantly described the horrors of immortality in 1726 in Gulliver’s Travels. Many other writers have subsequently joined the fray. Contemporary American poet Mary Oliver points out: “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”

Our own death is a gift for several reasons, most notably because it means we get to live. Let’s live. In the spirit of seizing the moment, let’s live now. In the spirit of re-localization, let’s live here now. Indeed, let’s fully embrace living here now.

This essay is excerpted and modified from McPherson’s latest book, Going Dark. Details about the book, published in October, are available at the websites of the publisher and Amazon.

— Guy McPherson, Transition Voice

You might also enjoy


  1. Annie Leymarie says

    I’m interested in Guy’s new book – Going Dark – but surprised that Transition Voice still gives Amazon as one of the two places to find out about it! Boycotting Amazon en masse will hopefully send a potent message for change!

  2. Kim Baba says

    I am smiling with my eyes welling up with tears because of the unexpected pleasure of sharing this awareness with Guy and whoever else might be reading these words. Let’s live here now. In all its hereness and nowness and togetherness. Bless our little hearts at this late stage of the game and may we learn how to forgive ourselves so that whatever comes next may be less burdened by this legacy or karma. Jeepers.

  3. TR says

    Well,I had a great day. I woke up this morning.

    Why do I have to take a math pop quiz to comment?
    1+four=5 or is it five, I passed? lol

  4. Jim Calhoun says

    That passage in “Gulliver’s Travels” is in part three. Look for the name Struldbrugs, who are what we would call mutants.
    Generally Swift was a Tory opposed to many things we would accept as given, though he was also a man of the Enlightenment. Reads parts 2 and 4 to see that last. Also in part 3, though, is a funny but telling anti-science satire including, among other examples, an experiment to reproduce the original food from a barrel of ordure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *