We’ve had a long, lingering winter in Ireland this year. Spring has stalled out. The trees remain bare, and the only blooms that have flourished have been the gorse flowers and the winter heather.
At least for the last couple of days the weather has been upbeat and cheerful, despite the deep chill that turns icy at night.
I heard the news of Iain Banks’ grim health prognosis on a picture-perfect day: sunshine pouring from an immaculate azure sky. It doesn’t seem real. This is the weather for a peace accord or the birth of a child. What a stark contrast: Spring lazily stirring, and the sad news arrives of the health crisis of a talented writer, who is only 59 years old. I don’t claim to know him, and only briefly met him, but those who care for him do so deeply.
Death is a terrible, stealthy, sucker punch to the gut. It doubles us over gasping and reeling until we knock against the unmovable wall which marks the utter finality of life.
At its best this brutal realisation jolts us out of routine and complacency. It serves as a stark reminder that whatever we want to accomplish in life we better begin it in earnest.
It underlines how precious, how fragile life is. A soap bubble on a fickle wind.
It is hard not to succumb to despair when we are faced with this reminder of our mortality. Yet, there is only one option: to throw ourselves into life. To love those who love you back, to embrace uncertainty, and to accept fear’s grip without allowing it to throttle us.
And beauty. Beauty will always save you.
Run out and clutch at it and laugh if you can.
(Further updates about Iain’s health will be posted on the Banksophilia web site – you can leave messages of support there too.)