Robert Greene’s book “The Laws of Human Nature,” is 586 pages. It took me a while to get through it. There are stories about people throughout history, people I had heard about, but I never knew the details of their lives. He captures how they dealt with their human nature.
In my opinion, and maybe it is because I am as old as I am, the last chapter is the best, because it deals with death. Always a fun subject.
He quotes a 14th century Japanese writer named Kenko who said, “If a man were never to fade away like the dews of Adashino, never to vanish like the smoke over Toribeyama, but lingered on forever in the world, how things would lose their power to move us. The most precious thing is life is uncertainty.” The bold emphasis is mine.
We all want to be in control even if it is just perceived control and much of the time it is just that. I have always liked the picture of the fiddler standing on a roof top in the movie, “Fiddler on the Roof,” because the main character refers to his life as being as precarious as a fiddler on a roof.
Greene’s title for this chapter is “The Law of Death Denial.” It is a law of human nature he says, but I would say it depends on culture. I think that the west is much more guilty than other parts of the world.
He begins this chapter by telling a story about Mary Flannery (1925-1964). She had been given an early death sentence and she used it to her own ends says Greene. She pushed herself because she knew time was limited for her.
Greene says, “It is a fate we all share and should draw us closer for that reason. It should shake us out of any sense of feeling superior or separated.” I have heard Kate Bowler make the observation that “we are all on the losing team.” I really like that and I might just feature one of Kate’s books here at some point as well.