Thomas Britt O'Brien

To Tom, “The Fatalist”,

em hotep

As the priest said at your funeral, you were not just an actor but a scene- stealer. We were always awed and inspired by your stage performances, whether or not we let you know this. Your ability to assume and discard various personas at will, as if they were clothing, was remarkable in itself; even more remarkable was your capacity to become, completely and without inhibition, the characters you played and to make their stories known to an insensitive audience with a purpose and passion that bordered on the religious. Whereas most of the others merely imitated their characters with greater or lesser proficiency, it was an essential part of your art to live fully inside your character while on stage – to perceive, think, and react as he would. Your performances brought power and immediacy to our feeble imaginations and made us vividly aware of uncharted possibilities. For that I am grateful.

Off-stage, you played the Jester in our little group – skillfully uncovering the personal flaws to which we were blind with your ruthless jokes and subtle mockery, so that we would not rise in arrogance. You taught us to laugh at ourselves. For that I am grateful.

You brought disturbance into our dull lives and roused us from bad sleep. You showed us the folly of our empty conventions and stupid habits. You taught us to live each moment as if it were Eternally Recurrent – to be replayed again and again, undeviating in every detail, for billions of billions of years. You inspired us to fill each conscious moment with life and alertness – even when we suffered – as our final affirmation and seal. For that I am grateful.

Above all, I remember your integrity. With the possible exception of our last meeting, there was never an occasion in all the many hours we spent together when I witnessed you lie – not even when we wanted you to lie to us. You told the truth out of a passionate commitment to principle, even when it brought ridicule and hardship upon you. This required of you a level of courage that I have seen only a handful of people exemplify. You said that no one was truly free whose fear kept him from telling the truth. You were a liberating model of truthfulness in a community marred by deceit and hypocrisy; in this way, your Word had power for us. For that I am grateful.

For all these things, and for all our time together, I am grateful.

When we meet again, may our wills be aligned with Ma’at, our hearts broadened, our minds clarified, and our paths advanced.

May you be pleasing to the God of my heart.

May your name flower again.

ankh udja seneb em hotep