Have you ever been on an ocean liner? I don’t mean some piddly little island-hopping cruise ship; I mean an honest-to-god luxury vessel capable of crossing the Atlantic? If you haven’t, there’s no way you could possibly understand how crucial deck chair placement is on this kind of a ship, even if said ship is on its way to the bottom of the ocean. We served an exceedingly demanding clientele, and let me tell you, none of them wanted to share the choppy, frozen waters with anything less than the most exquisite arrangement of seating options. When the Titanic slid beneath the waves, taking hundreds of souls with her, she did so with the most becoming, loveliest deck amenities imaginable.

I am aware that the phrase “like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” has become shorthand for “a task rendered useless in the face of overwhelming circumstances.” Well, here’s another phrase for you: “how you do anything is how you do everything.” And if I was willing to die leaving a bunch of chairs sloppily bunched together with no thought to view or most pleasant sea breeze, I can assure you that I would have made a lowly member of the Eternal Choir indeed. As it is, I am a frequent soloist, thank you very much.

As an everlasting spirit, I can see that some of you are slumped over your workspaces, or your children, wondering what the point of any of this is. Does it really matter, I hear you ask yourself, if I finish my screenplay? Who’s even going to make movies anymore? Who cares, in the long run, if I file these reports or simply burn my entire house to the ground? What the disharmonious FUCK is the point of Zoom calls for kindergarteners? These are the thoughts of an inattentive chair-master, my friends. I am sure that when you think of the kind of chaos that’s unfolding across the planet as bodies are wrecked by virus and economies by quarantine, your daily data-entry tasks seem like small, absurd potatoes. I invite you to look up from your own navel and consider whether you wish to die with dignity, or like a fractious, spoilt child who can’t even manage the most basic of secretarial tasks.

And as for your novel, or your screenplay, or your triptych of trompe-l’oil portraits of Richard Nixon — it is true that these works may never be born to a world that can care about them. Did the chairs I so lovingly arranged ever sink beneath the weight of a wealthy, silk-clad bottom? No, they sank beneath the North Atlantic, but that’s hardly the point. The point is, I did my duty to the best of my ability and froze to death with a satisfied heart.

Here is the truth of all of it, dear readers: whether our graves are the cold and shadowy depths of the ocean or a potter’s field stacked with plague victims, the grave awaits us all, and always has. Your efforts matter as much as they always did, which is to say not one little tiny bit, except that they are the most precious of things — they are your heart. Take care of your heart, my friends, and I shall see you on the other side.