Monday, February 22, 2010

one final act

In "The Book of Five Rings," a 17th-century treatise written by Miyamoto Musashi, whom some consider the greatest swordsman Japan has ever seen, these (approximate) words appear:

"Even if a samurai should have is head cut off, he should still be capable of one final act."

A number of years ago, "The Book of Five Rings" became the darling of businessmen in the United States. In it, various commentaries suggested, these stock brokers and bankers and captains of industry found strategies that spoke to the business world in which they fought and clawed. None of the commentaries I ever read suggested that honor and uprightness were of any particular interest. And none suggested that such latter-day readers would be capable -- even by aspiration -- of "one final act."

What a description of determination and discipline -- to be capable, after all ordinary supports and hand-holds were erased, of one final act. I am sure that latter-day samurai wannabes would be happy to brag about their prowess and power and samurai lineage, but to be capable of one final act? I doubt it.

But critiques or praises of others is not so much what's interesting to me. What I think is useful would be to know what your own final act might be ... the final act ... the one after the end.

For example ... now.


  1. Check out this very sad article:

  2. Beautiful. Thankyou, Adam.


  3. Hi Trevor -- All I can think of is the old saying, "No one ever lay on his deathbed thinking, 'Gee, I wish I had spent more time in the office.'"

    But I suppose no one could know that until they exercised some attention or lay on their deathbed.

  4. Once, a long time ago, I heard some 'compassion' advice that used to be given to apprentice samurai. It went something like this: when you cut off someone's head, you should do it in such a way that when his head hits the ground you can still see the smile on his face.