Yiyun Li in More Intelligent Life:
Everyone, sooner or later, draws their last breath. What’s the point of living, one could ask, if we all have to come to a dead end? What’s the point, if life never tires of offering situations like asthma? Far from fatal, these nevertheless cause inconvenience, suffering, even despair—in a letter Stefan Zweig wrote before his and Lotte Zweig’s suicides, he mentioned her incurable asthma as one of the reasons for their decision.
When asked for the secret to a long life, an old woman in Chinese folklore says: “There are two things we all do in life: to be born and to die. We’ve done one, what’s the hurry for the other?” Patience: there is plenty of rehearsing time for one to understand the script better. “To philosophise is to learn how to die,” wrote Montaigne, Seneca’s intellectual offspring. To philosophise, however, is not the only way to rehearse: to live through a moment of triviality with courage is laudable, too. As Charlie Brown says in a strip, after looking into the vastness of the starry sky, “Let’s go inside and watch television. I’m beginning to feel insignificant.”