Rewriting a bit in my mother tongue, since after more than three years of blogging in English I am starting to look for words when I speak in Italian. English-speaking readers may use an automatic translator if they will.

Riscrivere un poco nella lingua madre perché dopo più di tre anni di blog in inglese quando parlo in italiano cominciano a mancarmi le parole. I lettori di lingua inglese possono usare un traduttore automatico se vogliono.

A Brush With Death

Non so. Forse scrivo questo avendo letto un testo di Richard sull’argomento.

Incontrai tempo fa in aereo un tizio di Trieste che era stato anche assessore della città per alcuni anni e con il quale instaurai una di quelle amicizie intense che nascono (e muoiono) nello spazio di un’ora. Mi disse che la sua vita cambiò dopo aver avuto due infarti.

“A brush with death always helps us to live our lives better”. L’avevo appuntato nel mio diario ma non so più chi l’ha scritto. Tradotto liberamente: quando la morte ti sfiora ti aiuta sempre a vivere meglio.

In fondo, e lo dico senza alcuno spirito macabro e in tutta serenità, quest’ultima fase della vita dovrebbe essere tutta un ‘brush with death’, il che dovrebbe renderla la più preziosa di tutte, giorno per giorno, accorgendoci di quanto è bello ciò che stiamo per lasciare, per cui molte preoccupazioni di fronte a una tale prospettiva dovrebbe scomparire, o attenuarsi di molto.

Dovrebbero. Ma quasi sempre non è così. It doesn’t work that way most of the time.

Ecco che forse può giovare dirigere, quasi spingere, la mente verso pensieri del genere, come quando cerchiamo di recitare versi o parole che danno forza.


Related posts:

Young People vs Life

I giovani e la vita

36 thoughts on “Il soffio della morte può rinfrescare?

  1. I vecchi si diventa, più si deve vivere nel momento presente. Lo sono solo nella mia metà degli anni sessanta, ma quando mi sveglio ogni mattina sono grato per questo giorno in più di vita.

    La Bibbia (Matteo 6:34) ci dice: Non affannatevi dunque per il domani perché il domani prende il pensiero per le cose di se stesso.

    Purtroppo, questo è spesso più facile a dirsi, che a farsi.


    1. Be’, è una metafora, per cui ‘rinfrescare’ (refresh) va bene con il ‘soffio’ (breeze). Ma certo risvegliare (awaken) dà più l’idea del pensiero rivelatore, perché sapere che la morte è più vicina può portarci a viver meglio i giorni che abbiamo.

      Ogni tanto vorrei scrivere in italiano, quindi potrai far pratica se vorrai.


    1. Cheri, I added a link to it for you in the first paragraph. If you click on it a new window will pop up: you either copy/paste the text into it, or, better, copy/paste the address of the web page, which will be translated entirely.


  2. Cheri – Usted deberia haber escrito en italiano, no español.

    Recuerda hacer esto la próxima vez!!!


      1. “……A proposito, sei per caso di origine francese………?”

        Diese sind alle lateinischen Sprachen. Andeuten Sie, dass es keinen Platz für die glorreiche deutsche Sprache in Ihrem Blog gibt?


  3. Sir, translated your post in English from the conversion link your provided. Not sure if all you wanted to express was translated accurately, but guess I got the gist.
    I’m still in my early thirties, but I’m already quite obsessed with death. Like you said, I also wonder that how come people who are much older than me and, statistically, more closer to death, could still worry about mundane issues when they should be simply celebrating each day of life as a gift.
    I suspect that there is huge gap between what our conscious mind thinks or wants to do and what we really end up doing and reacting to everyday life situations.


    1. Yes, when statistically closer to death why should one bother so much?

      Maybe there is this gap as you say. Perhaps we are programmed to react to immediate stimuli with thoughts and concerns which, in a new perspective of a shorter life, should make less sense.

      That’s why restoring a proper perspective by a small act of will could help. It does good to me in any case. Whenever I can do it.


      1. Yes, sure. Also, I think, its some kind of a defense mechanism by us to get trapped in trivial problems. Because if I dont spend enough time and energy to worry and solve my material problems (professional problems, finances, relationships etc), what will I then do otherwise? If all that is taken care of, then I start worrying about bigger problems of existence, universe, death and all that crap which I have no clue. That’s much more


        1. That’s a totally reversed perspective, interesting as well. The age factor may count in these reflections.

          On another note, you being 30 something and saying that death scares you, strangely enough I am not scared at all even though statistically, as you say, I am closer to the end of life.

          I probably will be very scared the day that special knocking will be heard at my door, provided I’ll be conscious enough to hear it, but how can I know.
          Besides life has like its natural course in some way.

          But I remember my fear of death at some time when I was a child.


          1. Well, I’m not sure if I put it correctly. Because I dont really think I’m scared of death, but, yes, I do think about it a lot. I’m kind of obsessed with this whole idea of death, but not yet scared to affect my material life in any way. And, no, when I was a kid, I never thought about death. Its something recent..perhaps after certain things happened in my life and I started realizing how vulnerable we all are, no matter where we live, how much money or intellect we have or how young or old we might be.
            I’m not sure if its a good thing or a bad thing..I mean my fascination with death. But, yes, I now more live my life with this attitude of ‘I have nothing to lose’ 🙂


  4. Please forgive me for crudely continuing to use my mother tongue. I possess no Italian, and feel that the translator did not do justice to your words.

    I am here only to thank you for your tolerance and generosity in using English for so long.


    1. Tolerance, generosity … no Richard.

      Learning some English has been more receiving than giving, definitely one of the good things happened in my life (I will continue to use it in my blog, apart from a small number of texts in Italian, which I need in this moment.) Blogging in English, great too.

      English has been generally enriching and also a professional advantage. Most Italians are monolingual, closed up in their culture. Young people are starting to open up to diversity, I presume (and hope).


      1. I agree that using English has nothing to do with tolerance and generosity. It’s just plain wishing to communicate and be understood which is why, on my own blog, I write in French and in English and answer my readers in the language of their comment even, occasionally, in very bad Italian. Unfortunately I know no other language so, please, spare me German, Google helps but it is very approximate.

        Paul, I replied to you *below*.


        1. A famous philosopher (whose name escapes me) purportedly once said that you can only know your own language if you know at least one other.

          This may explain why so many monolingual English-speakers can’t speak or write properly their native English.


          1. I fondle such knowledge as I have of other languages tenderly and it does indeed complete my understanding of English to have some grasp of German, French and Italian, but I have not the courage of those who express themselves outside their native tongue. I always feel like a catastrophic dufus.


        2. @Richard

          you can only know your own language if you know at least one other.

          I think it to be true. Languages are a skill common to humans. The more we grasp of them the more linguistic mechanisms (roots of words etc.) we understand that expand our mother tongue’s knowledge, empowering our choice of words etc. Mandarin too, who knows, even if far from us, could be useful.

          But possibly the closer the language (to our language and culture) the greater the advantage for understanding ourselves. German, French (or Italian) can be empowering for an English-speaking person.

          But, let me emphasize this other terrific (and obvious) advantage of foreign language study: that of better knowing ‘others’ and their cultures, not only ourselves. After all, loving and appreciating only ourselves (or those similar to us) is the contrary of any selflessness. [So in general, what Richard said about generosity somehow enters the equation]

          Philippe, I’ve been drawn to Germanic languages (English and German) ALL my life as I say *here*, but, the older we grow the closer we get to the womb: I need a bit my mother tongue or any Latin language now and then.


          I have not the courage of those who express themselves outside their native tongue. I always feel like a catastrophic dufus.

          One has to dare and not worry about mistakes. People generally appreciate efforts and find mistakes sweet. Those who don’t and look down upon you are not interesting people frankly.


          1. I have a wonderfully polyglot friend who once explained she was a “waitress” on Russian television (she was working with a US agency, and meant aide) and another time walked into a grocery in Madrid and ordered a pound of penises. She somehow was able to survive this mortification, I don’t think I could.


  5. Mi perdoni per non parlare italiano correttamente.

    Come near, no more blinded by man’s fate,
    I find under the boughs of love and hate,
    In all poor foolish things that live a day,
    Eternal beauty wandering on her way.

    Yeats – To the Rose upon the Rood of Time


  6. @Dev
    I replied to you above.


    Easy mon ami, I will spare you German unless you talk to me in German. I have some knowledge of it but for some reason I wasn’t able to master it.

    Your Italian is very understandable, and simpatico – with the titbits of French and Latin you mix with it.


  7. @Geraldine

    Come near, no more blinded by man’s fate,
    I find under the boughs of love and hate,
    In all poor foolish things that live a day,
    Eternal beauty wandering on her way.

    Yeats – To the Rose upon the Rood of Time

    Your comment is mysterious (as mysterious poetry can be) and my knowledge of Yeats less than meagre.

    Every little passing moment can be eternal in its meaning? The more we age the more we learn? The fate of man, dying, should not prevent us from contemplating eternal beauty?

    Since the rose after all could be the symbol of all this: perfect beauty though transient, matter and spirit at the same time.


  8. Yes, yes.
    Also, as she goes on her way we can partake of her beauty or not. We can be aware of her presence or not, but we are still part of the beauty of life, as is the rose in every way, as you say.

    I believe those who partake have to live with poignancy due to the mixture of joy and sadness that this awareness brings. This duality of feeling is the fullness of life.

    Saint Augustine refers to this with:
    ‘Sero te amavi, Pulchritudo tam antiqua et tam nova! Sero te amavi.’


    1. Yes, this joy and sadness and all it implies, we may perceive it as the essence of life. I sometimes ask myself whether there is another way of seeing it all, different from the Platonic way Augustinus saw it. I mean, this separation, so painful, between the senses and the spiritual realm.

      Won’t get into that: it’d get obscure. But it is clear many (non Platonic) ancient pre-Christian Greco-Romans didn’t feel such painful fracture.


  9. Ciao! Sono Ashish. Vorrei La Colazione completa! Grazie! Arrivederci!

    That would be the extent of my Italian. 😛 How are you doing my friend? It’s been a long while and I am guilty! Hows Carolina? 🙂


    1. Hi dude, nice to hear from you again!

      Well, don’t feel guilty, what for? I am doing very well and Carolina also. Only she’s a bit crushed at her new job. I hope there’ll be a change in her job situation so she’ll be allowed to breathe a bit. But making one’s way up the ladder the hard way is not bad for a young person.

      Do you know I met Nita (from ‘A Wide Angle View of India’) and her husband Anil at my home? We had dinner together. It was a great evening. I’m now writing a post on that.

      I’d like to know more about you and how you are doing, your family, bro, studies and the rest.

      Happy every time you pop up friend.


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