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Nichole Hungerford

From the Writings of David Horowitz: June 29, 2010

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Posted on June 29 2010 6:45 am
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The Eighteenth Century lexicographer, Samuel Johnson is remembered, in part, for a famous observation he made about executions: “When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” It is the timeline that sets the mark and focuses the attention. Who doesn’t know that death is waiting? But who plans their day with the end in mind? Eventually you may get far along enough that it is a prudence to greet each morning as though it were your last. But until then, the end is only a distant horizon silently nearing. It approaches so slowly that you can hardly see it move. Then, a day comes, perhaps when you have already reached middle age, that its shadow enters the corner of your eye and remains there, and for a dreadful beat shuts everything down.

To measure the time I had left, I began to develop the habit of looking back over twenty-year patches to see how much living had been packed into the interval. When I turned forty, this retrospect fixed me as a young man just out of college and newly married. It was 1959 and I had loaded my first car, a used Volkswagen “bug,” with books and clothes and household belongings, and set out for California. Sitting beside me was my bride who would bear me four children in the course of the next decade, and before us a horizon of uncharted distances and adventures unknown.

Twenty years does not seem a long time from some perspectives, but from others it can seem like an ample quotient. I was only forty, but the road I had traveled since included a life derailed by tragedy, a marriage failed, a family grown and a career undone. It was enough to approximate an existence in full. The young groom in the picture was as strange to me now as the toddler twenty years before would have seemed to him. If my first two intervals had encompassed so much, I reasoned, there was still a lifetime ahead before I reached sixty. So why think about the end at all?

The End of Time

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