Bigger on the Inside

Our house is really dirty. But that’s because we’ve got handymen fixing a few odds and ends, oh and painting the inside of our front door to look like the Tardis.

(It’s apparently never to late to be the geeky kind of fan who would paint the inside of their front door to look like a travelling time machine. I take full responsibility. Every Doctor should have a Tardis.)

Still, I was sorry that one of the first things I said to the Philosophe this morning was one of those wifey-naggy comments about him not dusting off his feet before getting back into bed for our first cup of coffee. I was (am) sorry because a few minutes later he would learn about the death of Christopher Hitchens, someone he has admired for a very long time, and for whom I also (belatedly) grew to have deep respect.

It is a very sad day. It is one of those sad days, I suspect, that will have thousands of people not only lamenting the loss of a great thinker, but also confronting their own mortalities. I know this is the case for me, even as I wish it wasn’t. Death is unnerving like that. Not the idea of death itself, but rather the idea that it will come too soon. That I will not have finished everything I want to do. That I will not have become the person that I want to be (ie. the one who has accomplished it all). That I will have (ugh) regrets. Worst of all, that it will come too soon to someone else whom I will then have to live without. Death makes us pathetically, frighteningly small.

And so, on days like these, I am tempted by all the things I could do better. Work harder. Read more. Write more. Write better. (Be more like Hitchens.) Drink less. Smoke less. (Be less like Hitchens.)

But that would be forgetting that today is not about me, and also that inspiration should come from life, not from death. I will miss reading new writing by Hitchens (his Vanity Fair pieces in particular), which never failed to inspire me to write better. But fortunately for me, there is practically a whole lifetime of Hitchens’ writing which I have not yet gotten round to, a good deal of which sits on shelves right in front of me.

Books are a bit like the Tardis, come to think of it. They can look small and boring, but the best ones are bigger on the inside, and they take us to really cool (though sometimes scary) places. People too. Hitchens was a giant for sure.

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