I’m completing interviews for my newest book, “Icons. Growing Up In The Shadow Of Greatness”, and I’m meeting some fascinating people. One of them is Ken Ross who I’ve discovered I have much in common with. Not in background, but in attitude.
Ken is a world-traveling photographer and the son of the late psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross whose book “On Death and Dying” famously revealed her theory of the five stages of grief.
We’re meeting via Zoom, me in my home office in Midland Ontario where it’s minus 20 degrees Celsius, Ken in his studio in Scottsdale Arizona. It’s much warmer where Ken hangs out.
As part of our discussion, I’m intrigued to know what Ken’s late mom might have had to say about the Covid-19 pandemic which is causing so many deaths. That leads us to his confession.
“You know Peter,” Ken tells me, “I certainly have no death wish. But I suppose one of the qualities I inherited from my mother is the acceptance of death as a part of life. So if I were to learn I’m going to be a victim of this awful virus, I have to accept that. Not much I can do about it. And you know what: I’ve had a great life. I’d sure like to have more time on this earth, but if the cards are lined up differently, so be it.”
Well, isn’t that almost word-for-word what I told a friend recently! In fact, what I said was, “What’s the worst that can happen? You get the virus and you die. If that’s the way the cards are dealt, so be it” This elicited a gasp. But it's true: this is very much my attitude, a characteristic Ken Ross and I have discovered we share.
My mom passed a few months ago at age 100, insisting to the end that I have her genes. (So, my goal is to hang in to age 110, assuming the synapses are still firing and I’m physically OK). But if you were to tell me right here and now that my time to kick the bucket is at hand, well, I’ll accept that. There’s not much I can do about it, so let's get on with things. But let me also appreciate what I’ve experienced to date: it’s been a hell of a ride. I’ve done things, met people and had experiences that blow me away when I stop to think about them. Asking for more can be greedy.
There have been lots of negative reactions to my point of view about death, so it was comforting to meet Ken and hear his agreement. We’ve going to meet in the post-Covid world (there will be a post-Covid world, right?!?) because we have much in common to discuss.
If you agree, swell. And if you don’t, that’s OK, I respect your view.
And isn’t that just what keeps the world going round.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. And most of all, stay happy.