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In Praise of Working Yourself to Death

What's the Latest Development? 

Roger Ebert wrote more than 300 film reviews in the final year of his life. During the last six years of Nora Ephron's, the author wrote two books, two plays, 100 blog posts and directed a movie. It might seem that we are no longer even allowed to die in peace, lest we sacrifice our last days' productivity. "It’s easy to be dismissive about this kind of Type A overdrive, but it’s a mistake, I think, to criticize it," says Shelly Kagan, the author of 'Death' and a professor of philosophy at Yale. "We should consider ourselves fortunate if we find our work so satisfying and meaningful, and if we can make a contribution until the end."

What's the Big Idea? 

What would be wrong, according to Kagan, would be to abandon one's friends and family at the end of a lifetime in favor of working. But on the contrary, many people near the edge of death (though not all) seem to have a healthy perspective on life, pursuing their passions until the final minute while keeping loved ones close. "Part of the appeal of working in the face of one’s imminent demise must surely be the distraction, a kind of morphine for the brain, that it supplies. 'When I am writing, my problems are invisible, and I am the same person I always was,' Mr. Ebert told Esquire magazine in 2010. 'All is well. I am as I should be.'"

Read it at the New York Times

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

 

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