To die in Oregon?

To die in Oregon?


norman lebrecht

July 20, 2019

From our fast-moving diarist Anthea Kreston:

I have an irrational and unavoidable obsession with my own death. It’s been around so long, I don’t really know when it started, and since I can’t get rid of it, I decided to embrace it and allow it to affect my life and decisions in a positive, rather than negative way. Death isn’t negative, anyway – it’s just a part of life – like birth, illness, success, failure, dreaming, challenging yourself, taking risks, falling in love, staying in love, being inspired by others, expanding kindness, learning, being bored, making mistakes, stressing out, losing things that you love, growing a plant from a seed. And like most of the things on this list, it can happen at any moment. I guess, actually, my obsession is with the things that immediately precede death. That can be two things – a long illness, or a split second. And I always think – where do I want to have my cancer, or where do I want to spend the day before I get hit by a bus? It’s like those favorite pair of jeans that you wore forever. And you patched the knees, and then made them into cut-offs, and you met that guy when you were wearing them, and you jumped off that rope-swing in them. And then, one day, it was your last day wearing them. And you didn’t know it was your last day. You just stopped putting them on, and they became a memory, something that accompanied through a certain part of your life, just like you, yourself will be a part of many people’s lives, and one day, they just won’t put you on anymore, because you had so many patches, or you shrunk in the wash. But when those people think about the time they jumped off that rope-swing on that hot day, they will remember those jeans cut-offs, or you, or the mosquitos.

And so, I wanted to pick the place where I will have my cancer, or my heart attack. And if there is one day left, or 10,000 days left, it doesn’t matter. For me it is always one day. And the place is a small town in Oregon.

What does being a musician mean? It’s about more than your hands on your chosen instrument, playing notes, dynamics, rhythms. It’s about being in touch with the past, and future, and your current self. And being in touch with the intangible nature of being a human. For me – making a sound on an actual instrument is such a small part of being a musician, and because I know I will die at any moment, I am completely immune to the pressures of having a steady job, or prestige. As long as I have the money to provide for my family and a safe place to live, that’s all the career I need.

And so, as I sit on the first leg of our flight to Idaho from Berlin, between Jason and our two daughters, we start on the next part of our journey. Two weeks in Idaho, 2 in Chengdu, 2 in Berlin, and a big move back to Corvallis, Oregon. Sure, I have enough concerts and stuff like that lined up, with some spicy touring next season. And some very cool podcasts, which I can do from the studio in our new home – one window looking at the snow-capped mountains, one towards the wild ocean. And maybe my own radio show. But most of all, I will be with my family in a safe, wonderful place, with friends and good food, and clean air.

Last night, as I was making shorts out of my youngest daughter‘s favorite pair of jeans, I thought to myself – “what an amazing story these jeans will tell“. Here‘s to all of our favorite jeans! May they all jump into many lakes, climb many mountains, and drink many beers with that guy.




  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Living life to the full is the perfect antidote to fear of death.

  • Marg says:

    Berlin to Corvalis …. all the best with the adjustments, and hope you dont lose any jeans in the moving process! Its nice to read once again your philosophizing on life (well, sort of on death too in this case) on Slipped Disc. Bon voyage.

  • Ross Amico says:

    That first paragraph is beautiful, and poignant. I think just like that. Except the part about where you would want to have your cancer. So many parallels to the jeans analogy…

  • RL Kendrick says:

    Have a listen to Froberger’s “Méditation sur ma mort future” (in the version copied by Mathias Weckmann).

  • harplady says:

    Oh, how I love your postings! And to read such a personal one is a rare treat. Thank you for sharing.

  • harplady says:

    Oh, how I love your postings! And to read such a personal one is a rare treat. Thank you for sharing.

  • stefan g says:

    keep it for your self.

  • Augustine says:

    I’ve also been thinking a lot about death lately: the death of our planet. This death is negative.

    We now have about 10 years to do something about it.

    Here are 5 things that should be implemented immediately:
    1. A carbon tax.
    2. The political will to aggressively phase out dirty energy.
    3. The revamping of agricultural practices.
    4. The shift away from beef and dairy in the global diet.
    5. The public investment in green energy and carbon capture.

    Regardless of how we philosophize about our own death and life, the planet earth will ultimately be the final arbiter.

    • christopher storey says:

      I am trying to decide whether Augustine ‘s view coincides with, or on the other hand opposes, the view of the Rev. Malthus . The plain fact is there are too many of us, breathing in too much oxygen and breathing out too much carbon dioxide . Is she in favour of taxing breathing ?