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lightly, my darling

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Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) wrote poems, travel writing, short stories, essays, and film scripts. His final novel, Island (1962), takes us to Utopia and offers a counterpoint to his earlier, better-known, and pessimistic Brave New World (1932). Here he writes with poetic sensitivity about one woman accompanying another toward death. Rereading the text reminds me that her advice applies equally to everyday living.

Lightly, my darling, lightly. Even when it comes to dying. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic. No rhetoric, no tremolos, no self-conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Goethe or Little Nell. And, of course, no theology, no metaphysics. Just the fact of dying and the fact of Clear Light.

quicksandSo throw away all your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly, my darling . . . Completely unencumbered.

source: Quoted in “Editorial.” The psychedelic review. 1964, 1(3), p.273.

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