Dean Barnett, RIP
Dean Barnett has died after a long battle with CF. My fondness for Barnett dates back to a 2007 post entitled Muddling Nobly, Happily and with a Sense of Purpose Through Life’s Unexpected Twists & Turns:
…And that’s where “muddling through” comes in. Regardless of who you are, at some point life plays some rotten tricks on you. Some people get terrible blows from fate; some people make their own bad luck. But everyone at some point realizes that life is at times a slog, and sometimes a cruel one.
But we “muddle through.” As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become ever more convinced that one of the keys to happiness is enjoying the “muddling,” and being cognizant of your blessings while doing so.
Some people just can’t do that. The muddling makes them bitter and angry; they enter a spiral of self-pity…
Life is one big muddle. Sometimes you have to muddle more, sometimes you have to muddle less, but for all of us “muddling through” is the natural state of things. Luckily, while we muddle, we can surround ourselves with things we cherish. We can muddle nobly, happily and with a sense of purpose. We can choose to love and allow ourselves to be loved as we muddle.
Ultimately, if you want it to be and let it be, it’s a beautiful muddle indeed.
I am grateful to have had a chance to thank Dean personally for this column in an email and will always treasure his kind response.
Tributes from Mark Steyn, John Podhoretz, and Peter Robinson.
More from Hugh Hewitt and Bill Kristol.
Finally, there is no better way to end than with Barnett in his own words:
As I grew sicker, I had what for me was an extremely comforting insight. I came to view serious and progressive illness as an ever constricting circle with oneself at the center. The interior of the circle represents the contents of one’s life. As the circle gets smaller, things that were inside get forced out. Some of these things are dearly missed; others that were once thought precious get forced to the exterior and turn out to go surprisingly unlamented.
At the innermost point of the circle are the things that really matter: family, faith, love. These things stay with you until the day you die. At the very end, because the circle has shrunk down to its center, they’re all you have left. But as we approach that end, we finally realize that all along, they were what mattered most. As a consequence, life often remains beautiful and worthwhile right up until the end.
Thanks, Dean, for all you taught us about how to live.