Growing up, both Carlos Castaneda and Yamamoto Tsunetomo were big ideological influences of mine. I remember being about sixteen, reading in the backseat of the car on a holiday trip to the South of France. Thumbing through the pages of ‘The Wheel of Time’ (full title: ‘Shamans of Ancient Mexico, Their Thoughts About Life, Death and the Universe’), I was struck by the uncanny feeling that someone had gone through my head and catalogued my thoughts using Central American Indian metaphors.

A year or so earlier, I’d watched Jim Jarmusch’ under-rated samurai movie  Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai. I’d been very impressed by Jarmusch’ cleverly contemporary interpretations of the (at first glance) seemingly outdated teachings of Tsunetomo’s Hagakure.

Both Castaneda and Tsunetomo stress an increased awareness of ones eventual demise. The Hagakure recommends meditating upon various ways of dying: being stabbed, impaled, drowning,… Castaneda, and his teacher Don Juan, instruct one to die in one’s mind while still alive. Having already died, one becomes fearless, for after death, nothing worse could ever happen.

Until the likes of de Grey or Kurzweil see their theories come to fruition, the reality of the world is this: Shit dies and so do we. As it stands, this confrontation with our inevitable mortality is still the one thing every single person on this planet has in common, regardless of gender, income or religion. We are all traveling along the same path towards the same, shared destination.

We may as well hold hands along the way.