«No, I’m not likely to take more risks in life, now that I know I’m dying. I’m not about to tackle skydiving or paragliding. I’ve always been physically cautious, preternaturally aware of all the things that can go wrong when one is undertaking a dangerous activity. Paradoxically, it was Dad, a peripatetic airline pilot, who taught me to be careful. I don’t think he was temperamentally suited to flying; the risks played unhealthily on his mind and made him fearful, tetchy, depressed. At the same time, he was addicted to the thrill of flying and couldn’t give it up.

His ambivalence about danger confused me while I was growing up. He never discouraged me from taking up risky activities; instead, he filled me with fear about the possible consequences, with the result that I was never any good at them. When he taught me to drive, he made sure to emphasize the fallibility of the machine, something he would have learned during the war, at flying school, where mistakes could be fatal. He liked to open the bonnet of the car before we set off, and run through a sort of flight check with me to make sure everything was hooked up to everything else. These were good lessons and they’ve served me well, but I wonder if a certain enthusiasm for risk drained out of me as a result of his teaching methods, and whether that wasn’t his intent. It strikes me that I might have turned out differently if he’d taken me for a spin one day in one of the Tiger Moths he loved so much, shown me what had turned him on to flying in the first place, emphasized the mad joy rather than the danger.

The irony is that, despite my never having tempted death the way daredevils do, I’m dying anyway. Perhaps it is a mistake to be so cautious. I sometimes think this is the true reason for my reluctance to take my own life. It is because suicide is so dangerous.»

Cory Taylor, Questions for me about dying, The New Yorker