From left: Simone Weil, Ewa Klos, Agence Opale/Alamy; Mahatma Gandhi, imageBROKER/Alamy; Emil Cioran, Ewa Klos, Agence Opale/Alamy; Yukio Mishima, by Lautir.
There is a memorable scene in the miniseries based on Lonesome Dove, the Larry McMurtry novel about the exploits of two former Texas Rangers, life-loving Gus McCrae (Robert Duvall) and silent-type Woodrow F. Call (Tommy Lee Jones), on a cattle drive to Montana. After the burial of a young cowboy who drowned during a river crossing, “Captain” Call announces, “The best thing to do for death is to ride off from it.” Reeling with grief, the other men visibly want something more than this clipped advice, even as they resignedly turn their horses to ride after Call.
Whether in cataclysmic losses, trials and tribulations, or just everyday disappointments, life offers opportunities for it to fall short and for us to fall short. Isn’t it bad enough that we fail so often, and fall so hard, with such devastating consequences? When it comes to failure of whatever stripe, can’t we just follow in the footsteps of the stoic Captain Call and “ride off from it”?
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Reprinted from The Hedgehog Review 25.1
(Spring 2023). This essay may not be resold, reprinted,
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