All posts by Roosh

Garden Interview With E. Michael Jones In South Bend, Indiana

I had the privilege of meeting Dr. E. Michael Jones in his hometown of South Bend, Indiana. In this interview, I asked him questions about religion, American culture, and politics.

Listen to it in podcast format or download the MP3:

Subscribe to my Youtube channel or podcast RSS feed to catch future videos.

Previously: Roosh Hour #38: Holy Water

ON SALE: Early Bird Tickets For San Fran, L.A., San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas, Austin, Houston

Tickets for San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas, Austin, and Houston are now on sale at early-bird pricing until August 1. To grab your ticket, click here to visit Roosh Live, scroll down to your preferred city, and click the Buy button. Tickets are also still available for Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Portland.

I’ve now completed five events without any disturbance. Here is some feedback I received from the previous events:

The speech was terrific. I have read a lot of your writing and didn’t feel that you were repeating yourself here. Even when you talked about things you had written about before you had new comments and insights. In dealing with the audience/attendees you were thoughtful personable and kind.

[…]

It was terrific meeting so many conservative leaning people who are also into your body of work. People have a lot in common and the energy was great even the two women at the event had good sense! There wasn’t any drama or excessive competition over the women attending everybody was there first for the event which was nice.

[…]

You gave me a lot to think about. Potentially life-changing. I want to do a better job of living up to my own values. I have already taken a few steps in that direction since last night.

[…]

Roosh is a gifted story teller and I thought most of his life lessons were very thought provoking. His experiences traveling told before a live audience do it more justice than articles or even a book can do.

[…]

The stories were excellent. And you gave personal attention to each attendant. The location was easy to drive to and parking was free. It was a little chilly in the room but no big deal. Great preparation overall.

Please note that I have changed times and all dates from the original tour announcement! Also, after Minneapolis, I’ve decided to commence the happy hour directly after the talk instead of placing it on a different day. Here is the schedule for the new cities:

SAN FRANCISCO
Talk + Happy Hour: September 7 @ 4 p.m.
Dinner: September 6 @ 7 p.m.
Buy Tickets

LOS ANGELES
Talk + Happy Hour: September 14 @ 4 p.m.
Dinner: September 13 @ 7 p.m.
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SAN DIEGO
Talk + Happy Hour: September 21 @ 4 p.m.
Dinner: September 20 @ 7 p.m.
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PHOENIX
Talk + Happy Hour: September 28 @ 4 p.m.
Dinner: September 27 @ 7 p.m.
Buy Tickets

DALLAS
Talk + Happy Hour: October 5 @ 4 p.m.
Dinner: October 4 @ 7 p.m.
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AUSTIN
Talk + Happy Hour: October 12 @ 4 p.m.
Dinner: October 11 @ 7 p.m.
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HOUSTON
Talk + Happy Hour: October 19 @ 4 p.m.
Dinner: October 18 @ 7 p.m.
Buy Tickets

This early-bird sale ends on August 1. If you have any questions, leave a comment below.

Visit Roosh Live

ON SALE: Early Bird Tickets For Minneapolis, Denver, Salt Lake City, Seattle And Portland

Tickets for Minneapolis, Denver, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Portland are now on sale at early-bird pricing until July 4. (Omaha was removed due to low interest and Portland, Oregon was added in its stead). To grab your ticket, click here to visit Roosh Live, scroll down to your preferred city, and click the Buy button. Tickets are also still available for Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Columbus (OH), and Chicago.

This past weekend, I completed the Boston event without any disruption, so I expect future events to also be peaceful. Here’s a review from a Boston attendee via the forum:

Hey fellas, I attended the Roosh talk and Happy Hour this past weekend with Roosh and I must say it is a incredibly good time.

Roosh is kinda like a wizened old man who loves joking about absurdity, and his talk is a series of deeply personal stories and lessons he’s learned from them. Some are sad, some are uplifting, but no matter what you will be asking yourself a lot of questions after the speech is done. Roosh’s conversion was particularly interesting for me, as well as the story of his last girlfriend. The speech and meeting Roosh makes the event worth it, but it’s only half of the event.

The other half of the event is meeting with lots of similarly minded men. Being able to integrate into a community of like minded men is easily worth the price of admission without the speech. You’ll meet guys from all walks of life, from the top of the food chain to the bottom, all with different analysis’s of the world and what courses of action to take next.

It’s a great time, and it could easily be several years before something like this happens again. Go if for no other reason than to network and make some “dissident right-wing” (i.e. thinks for themselves) friendships in your area.

Feels like I planted the seeds of something important the past weekend.

Please note that I have changed times and all dates from the original tour announcement! Also, after Minneapolis, I’ve decided to commence the happy hour directly after the talk instead of placing it on a different day. Here is the new schedule:

MINNEAPOLIS
Talk: August 3 @ 6 p.m.
Happy Hour: August 4 @ 1 p.m.
Dinner: August 2 @ 7 p.m.
Buy Tickets

DENVER
Talk + Happy Hour: August 10 @ 4 p.m.
Dinner: August 9 @ 7 p.m
Buy Tickets

SALT LAKE CITY
Talk + Happy Hour: August 17 @ 4 p.m.
Dinner: August 16 @ 7 p.m.
Buy Tickets

SEATTLE
Talk + Happy Hour: August 24 @ 4 p.m.
Dinner: August 23 @ 7 p.m.
Buy Tickets

PORTLAND, OR
Talk + Happy Hour: August 31 @ 4 p.m.
Dinner: August 30 @ 7 p.m.
Buy Tickets

This early-bird sale ends on July 4. If you have any questions, leave a comment below.

Visit Roosh Live

Casual Sex Creates Guilt

At the height of my casual sex phase, when I was sleeping with numerous women per year, I was also attacking feminists and “sluts” with a level of hostility that I wouldn’t use today. Why was I so heated and angry while receiving bountiful sexual pleasure? Shouldn’t I have been praising the type of woman who gave me commitment-free sex? It took me a long time to realize that attacking those women was a way of relieving my guilt from sleeping with other women. I learned that guilt is the worldly debt you must pay when you sleep with strangers, along with many other activities you perform that are normalized in modern society. That guilt is then projected outwardly onto others as anger, distrust, frustration, and hatred.

You are already familiar with a form of guilt that is felt immediately and directly. Your friend is sick in the hospital but you are too busy to visit him. He dies and now you feel guilty. You date a girl for many years who is madly in love with you, but you decide she is not the girl for you. You break up with her and feel guilty. Your pug is ill with cancer and needs expensive treatment that you can barely afford. You forgo treatment, the pug dies, and now you feel guilty. Most people consciously experience guilt in these scenarios. They know the source of their guilt and tear their hair out wondering if they made the right choice, often for the rest of their lives.

But there is another kind of guilt that you don’t become consciously aware of. It happens when you engage in behavior that goes against the natural order or moral law but which is encouraged, promoted, or enabled by your culture. Sleeping around is the most common example. Outside the confines of love and family, sex is perverse and immoral, because it denies the reproductive aspect of humanity to treat others as masturbatory tools that are used and discarded. Exposing and rubbing your genitals with another person is the most physically intimate act you can perform, but doing so with a stranger creates subconscious guilt, no matter what your belief system or religion. When you consider that people place more care in not touching public door handles than vetting a person they fornicate with, it’s no surprise that societies which have promoted casual sex are awash in massive guilt that must be resolved within or projected without, but since most people are not aware of this specific form of guilt, it is almost always projected.

Subconscious guilt is a form of negative internal pressure that the soul can neither handle nor endure. As if in a game of tag, you must pass on the guilt to someone else, or find a method to dissipate it. This can occur by attacking other people, engaging in combative politics, abusing substances, or seeking a soothing form of ego gratification, often the exact same behavior that is causing the guilt in the first place. It turns out that men who have received sexual pleasure from sluts will then attack sluts for being… sluts. And then to relieve that angst he seeks pleasure with even more sluts, perpetuating the cycle. The type of woman that a man attacks is often one who has given him pleasure (his most accurate insults are reserved for who he knows best).

This phenomenon also happens to women who engage in casual sex. The women who cry most about “toxic masculinity” or “rape culture,” and who believe that sex is a source of empowerment and confidence, are promiscuous or “polyamorous” women who are relieving their guilt. This guilt is especially potent in women because, unlike with men, their scarcity of eggs, shortened window of fertility, and higher bodily investment during pregnancy dictate that they must be more choosy when selecting partners. Most people in the social justice movement are therefore composed of highly promiscuous women living a “liberated” lifestyle and then attacking men for also wanting to live the same lifestyle, just like how I was attacking sluts and feminists while simultaneously sleeping with them. I like to think of myself as an intelligent man, but the fact that I missed this massive blind spot for so many years means that many others are likely missing it as well.

Another example comes from interracial relationships. When a person seeks a partner outside of their race, guilt is created, and that gets projected against the very race they have amorous feelings for. You see this in black, Asian, and Indian women who attack “white privilege” and “white supremacy” while simultaneously dating white men or being attracted to them. Black women who advocate for Black Lives Matter or other racial concerns are almost certainly fornicating with a man who possesses white blood. The same happens to white men. If you want to identify a subset of white men who are disproportionately attracted to Asian women, try an alt-right event. I have to conclude that we are wired to reproduce with a similar race as ourselves, and when we choose not to do that, guilt is created and then projected as race activism.

One form of guilt that I have noticed growing within myself concerns my aging parents. Even though my parents can currently take care of themselves, I realize that they would be happier and more comfortable if I lived closer to them. Unless I permanently move back to the United States, this guilt will grow and then need to be projected. I suspect that the latest trend of attacking boomers is a way for Generation X’ers and millennials to relieve the guilt that is created from not being close to their family. Other behaviors that create guilt are masturbation, especially with the aid of hardcore pornography, and sodomy, which are both direct forms of self-abuse.

Unless you cut off guilt at its source, you will need to vent the pressure through constant projection and creative forms of deviance. Hence the ease at which those riddled by guilt become natural activists. If I didn’t stop having casual sex, I would find new and ingenious ways to insult women. If I soon don’t resolve the guilt of not being close to my parents, I will attack boomerism. Unless a woman becomes more modest and monogamous, she will rail against the “patriarchy” while bragging about her latest abortion. Unless a mixed-race individual makes peace with their identity, they will be the racist they claim to be against. Unfortunately, people continue to perform the behavior that creates the initial feelings of guilt because they are receiving messages in the culture that doing so is acceptable or healthy, but if that was the case, the guilt wouldn’t be there.

For the longest time, I thought I was just an animal that could “do what thou wilt.” I wanted to sleep around, be “free,” spread my “wings,” experience all I could, and design my own lifestyle in a faraway land, but there are built-in limitations to my existence that have blocked those attempts. If I chose to ignore those limitations and continue transgressing moral law, the subconscious guilt would start controlling me like a parasite controls its host, and I would soon find that my resulting “self” is merely a manifestation of behavior that is not compatible with life as it was created for me.

I believe God has established boundaries for humans that prevent men like myself from eternally sleeping with females like a dog, or doing other behaviors that are so common in the animal world, and it has “only” taken me four decades to understand that. I’m sure I will continue to make mistakes when it comes to sex, relationships, and being the best son to my parents that I can, but at least now I understand the consequence of those mistakes. Every time I look to attack someone or commit an immoral act with the hopes of receiving pleasure, I will have to think long and hard about what guilt I’m trying to relieve.

Read Next: Men Are Wasting Their Time

The Denial Of Death

After my sister died in March of 2018, I was desperate to make sense of what happened. A close friend of mine recommended I read the book Die Wise by Stephen Jenkinson. I also watched the documentary about him called Griefwalker.

Jenkinson is a Canadian who worked in the “death industry” as a director of palliative care in Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital. He has come to understand the perverse incentives that keep dying people alive, which stem from our inability to accept that death really happens. Die Wise helped me understand why my sister received barbaric medical treatment after her cancer diagnosis.

High-tech health care has become an undeclared war on dying itself.

[…]

Gone, if it was ever there, is the option of doing little, of under functioning, of opting for nothing when wrestling with illness and death in the presence of a remarkable range of options that doesn’t include doing nothing. Gone is any real questioning of treatment at all. The treatment options are debatable, but treatment is not.

When someone is diagnosed with a chronic illness that could lead to death, modern medicine insists on an immediate intervention that is often aggressive. Doctors may even use military terms against the illness like “hit it hard,” “attack,” and “go on the offense,” which insinuate that your body is a war zone, but even if you win the war, what damage will you body sustain? As I saw with cancer treatment, the destruction is tremendous. Surviving the war leaves you with far less than you had than when you first started, on top of the psychological trauma of wondering when the disease will return.

Because most people want to live, and have never deeply considered the fact that they will one day die, they quickly fall under the spell of the medical industry. Yes, the disease must be “attacked” and my body must be ravaged so I don’t die, because being alive is better. No monetary cost or bodily side effect should serve as an obstacle to “living,” but that living will not be the same as before.

More and more, medical technology has become—maybe by default, because so many of us have no other—the story of our dying.

[…]

Palliative medicine is a creation of rapid med-tech innovation unaccompanied by any similarly rapid innovative practice wisdom guiding its use, governed by the unimpeachable human-centered conviction that dying is a manageable metabolic event that should be managed, animated by the root conviction that If you can, you should.

If you get diagnosed with cancer, you must do something, because this is your one life and you need to live it; you need to fight! But now the doctors—the new priests—have you, and you are essentially donating your body to the medical industry. The machines and the tubes and the infusions and the side effects are now a daily feature of your existence. In essence, it’s a completely new life, but the aggressive something that is being done is often Potemkin intervention that merely enriches the doctors while extending your suffering.

What if the doctors, who are financially invested in you receiving treatment to pay their expensive mortgages, student loan bills, and BMW car payments, massage the truth about your true odds, and give you false hope that prevents you from accepting that death is on the near horizon? What if doctors know for a fact that you are dying, and you have practically no chance to survive beyond a few painful years, but refuse to tell you, and instead use mealy-mouthed code words that a family member has to painstakingly decipher as if they were uttered in a foreign language?

Once you give your body over to the doctors, they will mutilate it. They will slice and dice, pump you full of drugs, and then pat you on the hand to say you are doing great when you don’t even recognize the new life you have.

Within the health care regime the language often changes when a patient is tacitly acknowledged to be a dying person. Professionals will start talking with patients and families about “quality, not quantity.” They will talk of “palliative radiation,” of “comfort-giving measures.”

When someone is dying in the movies, a doctor often says, “I’m sorry but nothing else can be done. I recommend you get your affairs in order.” This doesn’t happen in real life. Instead, doctors repeat the word “comfort,” which really means that they want you to be comfortable with dying—but without telling you that you’re dying! They will be more than happy to fill you up with morphine and anti-depressants so you never have to be consciously aware of that fact.

Here is what I have seen, over and over: dying people in the early and middle stages of their dying, still fairly healthy considering everything, their dying no longer unknown, no longer questioned, their symptoms fairly well managed, their pain fairly well controlled, utterly terrified, unspeakably riven by dread, numb when they are not panting with the horror of it, up many hours of the night with a raw, unspeakable, pain-free or pain-managed terror. This makes them prime candidates for sedation or antidepressants. Here’s why: Their terror should have been quelled by having their worst fear managed. Yes. Of course. It should have done.

A doctor may not tell you that you’re dying, but your body knows. It can’t continue with “life” as it were, to enjoy the same things and go to work like everything is okay, which is what dying people are encouraged to do. This conflict leads to intense anxiety and terror that a doctor immediately wants to hammer away with psychoactive drugs.

In a culture that hides death, not only with humans but also with the animals we kill to produce our food, there is no secular superstructure or process to understand how we die. We’re at a loss of what to do when it comes to death (we don’t even know what to say to someone who is being affected by it), when death should be in our awareness not long after we’re born.

More Time means more time to live their dying. It means more symptoms, more drugs for the symptoms, more drugs for the side effects of the first drugs, more weakness and diminishment and dependence to go along with more time with the kids or the grandkids, or walks in the park with the dog. That’s not all it means, not necessarily, but More Time almost always means more dying.

[…]

More Time almost never looks or feels or goes the way people imagine it will when they are bargaining for it. More Time bears no resemblance to anything most people have lived. More Time is a fantasy of the resumption of a life interrupted. But More Time, when it finally kicks in, is the rest of a dying person’s life, and the rest of that life will be lived in the never-before-known shadow of the inevitability of their dying. For the first time in their lives they will live knowing that they will die from what afflicts them.

[…]

By being given More Time, they have been given more death.

Modern medicine gives the illusion that death—and the pain from death—can be escaped, but instead, doctors merely distribute the pain and suffering over a longer period of time, if not outright increasing it. Medical treatment is a devil’s bargain where you receive more time to live, but at an immense financial, physical, and emotional cost. While I would never tell a friend or relative to just let cancer or heart disease ravage them, they need to be aware that they will still be ravaged, just at a slower pace, while receiving a false sense of hope that life can return to what it was before the disease.

[The patient’s] problem was that he was still alive. Because of the treatment he’d received his life had been extended far beyond what the disease dictated, but he gained that additional life knowing that he would die in the foreseeable future of the disease he was being treated for anyway. He had bargained for months of illness and an hour of death, but instead got an eternity of wakeful agitated, motionless, unremarkable, endless, symptom-riddled, ordinary dying.

[…]

Instead of the old nightmare of uncontrolled pain and unexpected death, we have a new nightmare of controlled pain and an unexpected wish to die, a wish that can’t be accounted for by worsening symptoms and can’t be soothed by reassurances that no one will be allowed to suffer. They are suffering. Dying people are suffering a torment we once thought would only come to those in the hour of their death. Now the hour of death is months long, sometimes longer.

The deciding moment is when you become ill. Your body, existing in corrupted flesh due to Adam’s fall, has decided to die. It will always happen before you expect, and you will refuse to believe in your body’s judgment. You will blame all sorts of environmental causes and bad luck, but the body, your flawed biological shell, will win. Treatment is just rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic, and you will suffer mightily before it’s done. By saying this, I’m not advocating for you to abstain from medical treatment, but the costs of treatment must be understood before the disease comes, because when you’re ill, and doctors are dangling the possibility of a successful treatment or “cure” above your head, you will not be able to make a sound decision on what to do.

Dying is a natural thing, and left to its natural self each living thing knows how to die. The body has the genius of a natural thing, and it knows how to obey the accumulation of time, wear and tear, disease and symptoms. It knows how to stop. But med-tech, not in any sense a natural thing, knows how to subvert the way disease and symptoms have of keeping and marking time, and in doing so it subverts the body’s knowledge of how to stop.

You will refuse to listen to your body, to nature, to God’s plan. Besides, how will you really know it’s your time? Is refusing antibiotics for a skin infection that then becomes deadly sepsis what God has in store for you? How do I know God’s will? At what point are we being silly in refusing treatment and at what point are we extending our dying time?  These questions and boundaries have to be decided before the disease comes, which means you have to think of your death and pray to God for wisdom while you’re perfectly healthy.

Personally, I don’t believe I would treat cancer that I’m diagnosed with if it’s beyond Stage 2, when it has spread from the original tumor, though to know for sure, I would essentially have to become a doctor myself by being able to decipher medical scans and understand treatment plans and their costs, and the only reason I know of the intricacies of cancer treatment is because of what happened to my sister. With death shoved behind closed doors, most people will not know the truth of how the medical industry handles death until they experience it firsthand, yet the cost of learning that experience is high. Most of you will choose the “cope, hope, and dope” option that the medical industry offers you, and I don’t blame you for that.

…extraordinary energy and vitality given in this culture to the project of not knowing that we are dying, and because of the unhesitating willingness of caregivers of all stripes to collude with this refusal to know through the usually clumsily crafted projects of positive outlook, hopefulness, and live-instead-of-die advocacy, and because the etymology of the verb “to palliate” comes closer to “to conceal, to cloak” than it does to “to help.”

[…]

The woman was referred to an outpatient palliative care service without being told what it meant to be in palliative care.

Palliative care is given to patients who are not expected to live. They are given treatments that are meant to reduce pain and increase comfort, but not always: my sister was given both radiation and chemotherapy in her last days at tremendous pain even though, in hindsight, I believe the doctors knew there was little hope in her recovery. Regrettably, it was me who helped persuade my mother and father that we should go ahead with these futile treatments. My sister wanted to live, and I didn’t want her to die, and the doctors didn’t seem wholly pessimistic, but those treatments only made her dying time that much more difficult. The doctors withheld her true odds, and allowed all of us to make the wrong decisions when it came to her final days.

Everyone knows that everyone else is going to die. Each person does not know that he or she are going to die. They do not know they are dying when they are, which is why they need to be told. There are many working in the death trade today who will vehemently defend this not knowing as a fundamental right of all people. This is compassion to them.

You don’t possess the belief that you will one day die. You’re an educated person who knows that all living beings must die, but your own death is so abstract, so off in the distance, that you don’t truly believe it will happen to the extent that it’s worth thinking about now, but by not doing so, you delegate responsibility for your life to a medical industry that has its own interests which only slightly overlap with yours. You will panic when you are diagnosed with an illness, make sure all medical options are explored, and pursue an aggressive treatment plan that takes an immense physical toll on you, and yet you will remain ever so hopeful to extend your living time that you still refuse to accept your death, as proximal as it may seem to the doctors who are treating you.

When Finding Meaning is your hammer, it turns dying into a desperate kind of scavenger hunt, a last-gasp lunge at holding back the tide of Meaninglessness that our cultural poverty on this issue prescribes to us in our dying time.

[…]

If you haven’t been deliberately making meaning in your life by the ways you’ve lived it, then your time of dying is going to be a hard, hard proving ground, a tough, under-the-gun place to do so.

If you do accept death, what meaning can you find in a culture that conceals it and pretends it doesn’t happen, where the only institution of our culture that attempts to put death into context—religion—is all but gone? Even when you’re alive and healthy, you flounder at finding meaning that transcends the material. That is only amplified during your dying time. The context and meaning must already be in place for death to make sense, but since I know very few people who understand their existence while healthy, dying will be an exceedingly painful affair.

[Medicine] has turned the epic life drama of dying into the treatment of symptoms, the treatment of side effects of the treatment, the treatment of side effects of the drugs, the treatment of secondary, escalating symptoms, the treatment of secondary side effects, and so on.

The medical industry distracts you from death, postponing your acceptance and understanding of it. You will be so busy with doctor appointments, treatments, management of side effects, and listening to encouraging words of hope from loved ones and support groups that death never stops being an abstraction.

In a death-phobic culture like our own, knowing you are dying is not as healthy as hoping you aren’t dying while you are. When hopeful people are dying, and when dying people are hopeful, they buy a house on a street called Not Now, in a town called Not Yet, according to a Freedom 55 investment plan called Anywhere but Here. They become fighters, and the obligation they hold their families, friends, and caregivers to is that there be nothing but positive, upbeat, hopeful talk around them, no matter the diagnosis, prognosis, symptom buildup or failing strength, phantom capacity or fugitive alertness, until they themselves give the unequivocal signal that they have given up hope.

[…]

It is not dying that is traumatic; it is dying in a death-phobic culture that is traumatic.

In addition to the medical industry, there is also the health charity industry that acts as a cult to recruit you and your family to the “cause” of fighting, finding cures, and having hope, all while they lop off 50% of your money in “administrative” costs, and all you’re left with is colored ribbons made in China that you eventually toss into the trash when you realize how hollow their compassion really was.

Physicians, counselors, and families are all unhinged when a dying person wants to die before they are able to.

[…]

“I’m dying.” Don’t be negative. “I want to die.” You’re depressed.

If I get a terminal disease, and choose not to get treatment, please don’t ask me to fight, and please don’t send me your apple cider vinegar cure. Let me die! When the doctor lists my treatment options, and advises me to take a drug which will napalm my body, and that it’s my best option, I will tell him to let me die! When a family member says that I need to fight for them, so they don’t suffer the grief from my absence, I will thank them for their love and say let me die! No one, including myself, allowed my sister to die. She had to fight when she was beyond the strength to do so, when it was not fair to her. Trusting the doctors when it came to my sister’s care was perhaps the biggest mistake I’ve made in my life.

Our fear of dying is an inherited trauma. It comes from not knowing how to be at home in the world. It comes from having no root in the world and no indebtedness to what has gone before us.

As we become more rootless, more disconnected from our families, ancestors, and homelands, dying becomes that much harder. We don’t know why we lived, so how can we know why we’re dying?

Dying is enormously hard. The labor of it—and it is labor, of the same kind as that which brings life into the world—is relentless, demanding. The shock of having to see your days as numbered in the dozens, of seeing your body heading out of town, of seeing yourself as mostly passed, these are in some ways ruinous and costly encounters with the way it is.

But it’s going to happen. No amount of medicine or miracle cures will stop it, and attempting to delay your death simply extends your dying time so that you die longer, so that your body rattles for longer. Today is the time to face death, while you’re healthy to face it, not when you get sick.

If you are not born with the instinct for dying well, you have to learn it. I wish you every success in finding someone who is good at it and is willing to teach you. You have to learn how to die, or you probably will not die wisely or well.

[…]

People die the way they live, mostly. That could be grim, or it could be, in a quiet and unexpected way, great news. It means that you can begin to learn how to die well long before your turn comes. It means that you can practice it in all the mundane corners of daily life. It means there’s nothing to wait for. There’s no one to give you the news. Getting up again the next morning, until you can’t: That’s pretty much all the news you’re going to get to keep you in the know. Being able to eat again, until you can’t: That’s the news. Everyone else’s dying and death before yours is the news washing up on your shore.

One downside of this book is that it’s written in a poetic style that is quite wordy. It’s not a typical nonfiction book that lays out a recipe for action; instead, it is more of a gentle ballet that connects you with Jenkinson’s heart and his experiences. While the book will help you understand death in relation to medical care, it does not help much with death itself. Instead, it talks about how death is done in the modern era, and why it is so difficult. Nonetheless, I believe this book is important to read, especially if you or a loved one have just been diagnosed with a terminal disease.

If there’s one thing I learned from Die Wise, it’s that I shouldn’t count on anyone to tell me I’m dying, especially a doctor. They won’t tell me. My family won’t tell me, and will give me hope where none exists because they don’t want me to die. I will have to expose myself to death in a way that has been shielded from me and listen to my bones when my time is near, and be ready to experience death as purely and consciously I can, just like I have experienced everything else in life, because while I may not want death to come, it will come on its own timeline, not my own.

I wish I read Die Wise before my sister died. I would have understood that all her treatments simply prolong her dying time and that cancer “remission” is still a form of dying, albeit at a much slower pace, because the cancer is still there, waiting until it can start a new offensive. I would have been able to decode the “comfort” that doctors promised her, and how when they said it’s “helpful to try” a drug, what they were really saying is that we’ve arrived at the end of the road, and that it’s time to die. I lament that my sister had to die so painfully and confusingly for me to learn how I could die wisely when my time comes.

Read Next: Eulogy