The Denial of Death had a significant impact on me when I read it more than 20 years ago. I came across a quote from it as I was cleaning out my things:
“This, after all is said and done, is the only real problem of life, the only worthwhile occupation of man: What is one’s true talent, his secret
gift, his authentic vocation? In what way is one truly unique, and how can he express his uniqueness , give it form, dedicate it to something beyond himself? How can the person take his private inner being, the great mystery that he feels at the heart of himself, his emotions, his yearnings, and use them to live more distinctively, to enrich both himself and mankind with the peculiar quality of his talent?”
But he also wrote, “Creation is a nightmare spectacular taking place on a planet that has been soaked for hundreds of millions of years in the blood of all its creatures.” (p 282) Makes you think, huh?
It is hard for an ordinary person to see themselves living up to the grandeur of such thoughts. But a shame to give up entirely.
It’s a mind-blowing book and took me months of continuous reading (as in very few pages a night); a seminal book. I can’t go into detail more because when the men laid new carpet I climbed a “safe” step ladder and transferred most of the contents of my bookcase up atop the kitchen cabinets and haven’t brought them down yet.
It’s clear that Becker isn’t addressing only intellectuals, but those who take the time to look inward to discover or become more aware of what combination of positive urgings he/she can inculcate in order to offset the experience and acceptance of the limited lifespan.
Thanks for the comment!