Terence McKenna on Hope

I think it is worthwhile to celebrate the fact that, for the forty-third time, the United States will execute the peaceful transfer of power from one President to the next. Given human frailty and passion, I think that is remarkable. There is a lot of talk about hope in the air, and I thought we might listen to the inimitable and irreplaceable Terence McKenna give us his unique perspective on the subject.

Terence died on April 3, 2000, at the age of 53, of glioblastoma multiforme, a very aggressive brain cancer that afflicts primarily men in their forties and fifties. A friend of mine died from this disease, and it is a hard way to go. As far as I know, it has nothing to do with drug ingestion. As far as I know, too, the course of Terence's disease was absolutely typical of glioblastoma. Most important, he lived out his own message of optimism to the very end. In an interview shortly before his death, Terence said:

I always thought death would come on the freeway in a few horrifying moments, so you'd have no time to sort it out. Having months and months to look at it and think about it and talk to people and hear what they have to say, it's a kind of blessing. It's certainly an opportunity to grow up and get a grip and sort it all out. Just being told by an unsmiling guy in a white coat that you're going to be dead in four months definitely turns on the lights. It makes life rich and poignant.

The world got a lot gloomier when he died.

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