Huston Smith lived putting goodness into the world, and at ninety he was able to write:
And good-bye to you, dear reader. Writing was to me more than an academic obligation; it was my passion and my refuge. Although we never met in person, you were like a friend, the thought of whom spurred me to my best efforts.
A playwright, I can only suppose, fusses over the last line, the one that will bring the curtain down. My last line–-how typical of me–-is not one but three closing lines as I postpone the curtain, unable to choose which is best.
First close: I echo the British author Elizabeth Pakenham (mother of novelist Antonia Fraser), whose last words were “It has all been very interesting.”
Second close: My second last line is actually an observation. The older I get, the more the boundary between me and not-me thins and becomes transparent. I look back upon the paths I have traveled and think, This is me. I look across the table at Kendra, my wife of sixty-five years, and think, This is me. I feel my hip replacement and think, This is me. The childish oneself versus other becomes the mature oneself and other becomes, finally, oneself as other.
Third close: I can choose my favorite closing, after all. It is borrowed from the martyr Saint John Chrysostom, who while being drawn and quartered was said to have exclaimed, “Praise, praise for everything. Thanks, thanks for it all.” I savor the words in my mind, roll them on my tongue, and repeat them as my own: Thanks for everything! Praise for it all!
(Quoted from page 227 The Huston Smith Reader, by Huston Smith. University of California Press, 2012.)
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