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“How would it be to open the picture on a San Francisco street with a series of cuts of upturned faces, some stationary, others moving slowly along, and what they are looking at is an unusual number of sea gulls flying above the buildings of the city. We could continue the upturned faces until at last we came to Melanie also looking up and pan her right into the bird shop where she could make some comment to the woman inside who dismisses it with a remark to the effect that when the weather is bad at sea they often get driven inland.”

—Alfred Hitchcock, from a letter to the screenwriter on “The Birds”

In India, religious people are known to go on pilgrimage. They walk up to a hundred miles, maybe more, to visit a holy shrine and receive its blessing. And some of them walk in cheap, rubber flip-flops.

Maybe they understand that if you aren’t moving forward, you are not moving forward. If you don’t get up out of bed, your day doesn’t start. You don’t have a day.

Sometimes I think about stopping, just forgetting to try. It would require unlearning the whole “try” agenda: life as an endless project, or to-do list. Ever think about that? Just letting it go? Then what?

Walter Hudson, that’s what.

The Spiritual Lesson of Walter Hudson

The Spiritual Lesson of Walter Hudson is that the people who love us may be trying to kill us. I say this because Walter Hudson’s sister brought food (tons of it) to his bedroom after he got too obese to leave the house. She was only being nice, trying to help him. She loved him. She was his sister. He seemed so happy. He loved to eat.

How did it start? Walter Hudson fell and injured himself as a teenager. He was laid up for a few months. That “may have got me thinking that it was easier to just stay in bed,” he said before he died (at 1,100 pounds).

One thing that screws me up about “trying” is that there are so many of us on the planet. If you watch an old Hitchcock film, for example, check out the extras on the bus, or in the crowd scene at an amusement park. Each of those extras had a little bungalow in Los Angeles somewhere, and ate three meals a day. They got their panties sweaty on hot summer days, or their socks if they were men. Where are they now?

We simply have to pretend that we matter. We have to take care of ourselves and each other, even if it means delivering french fries to a morbidly obese brother. And we have to say the lines as they appear on the script. We have to try.

Walter Hudson would want us to. He was very kind.