Yom Kippur, 2019. I wore white, as is my custom, and didn’t shower, apply creams, or wear leather. These are the tools the tradition offers to playact our mortality. But I didn’t need them. I was two months past a major surgery, one month into chemotherapy, and fully aware of my own vulnerability and weakness and the possibility of death. Sitting alone, forcing myself to eat and drink as my doctor had commanded, I prayed for my life.
The psychotherapist Irvin Yalom, in his book Love’s Executioner, writes:
We know about death, intellectually...