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Death walks stealthily among us—a thing to avoid, to fear, to try not to think or talk about. Perhaps COVID has made us all a bit more aware of death’s imminence. For me the past four and a half years of American politics have brought me to a place where I can embrace my age and proximity to death. What I see in the future does not look appealing.

In the near-documentary film, Nomadland, one of the characters has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. To ease a new friend about her looming date with death, the woman relates the story of a canoe trip in which everything came together. “I realized at that moment,” she said, “that if I died tomorrow, I would die happy and content. There was nothing in this life that could surpass the magic of this lived experience.”

This scene gobsmacked me. It made me wonder if I’d had such an experience. Do we get only one such experience? Does everyone get at least one such experience? Have you encountered such an experience?