Death and Douglas Adams
Monday, May 14, 2001 by Dave Winer.
Like many, I was shocked on Saturday morning to find out that science fiction author Douglas Adams had died on Friday at age 49. Like many people of our generation I read his books and talked about them endlessly with friends, quoting them, and to some extent I've modeled my writing style after his.
I had two memorable conversations with Adams, one in public and one on the telephone. He had a nice flamboyance, but he was not arrogant man, and he loved the Macintosh, and software, and was serious about it, even though he was such a funny author; and it seems unfair to us to lose him at such a young age, and of course unfair to him that his time was so short.
Now I suppose it's only natural to be totally selfish about this. I'm 46, he was just three years older. On the Web I saw a bunch of other people my age draw the same conclusion -- "If it can happen to him, maybe it'll happen to me?"
Geez, to think that I might only have three years left to live. What torture. That feeling has virtually paralyzed me since I heard of his death. What if my heart is getting ready to explode? What if that pimple is really cancer? My aunt died at 49. Joey Ramone died a few weeks ago, at 49.
49. Three years away.
Then on a walk today, the first I've taken since Adams' death, I had a realization.
What matters is not how much time you have left, we're all on a reprieve, no matter how old or young we are, death will come for all of us, and it will probably come too soon. No, it doesn't matter how much time you have, what matters is how you use the time you have.
So I feel a sense of urgency to complete things, then let the world take care of them, and itself, and I'll take care of the time I have left, whether it be 3 days, 3 months, or 3 years; or Murphy-willing, more than that.
From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe.
"You know, it's at times like this when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young!"
"Why, what did she tell you?"
"I don't know, I didn't listen!"
So congratulations to Adams, where ever he is, on an inspiring life of creativity, humor and fun. He taught us that the universe doesn't have to be such a serious place
Namaste, and thanks for all the fish.