Applied Carpe Diem : Perspectives on Dying.

A picture of a sunset by Carl Byron Batson

‘Sound perception requires change/differentiation, which requires time. Hence, we can see motionless (stationary) things but we can not hear motionless things.’

Steven M. Miller’s elegant essays on sound, vision and perception have been (and will continue to be) a much-loved feature in Trebuchet’s schedules. The Singapore-based sound artist teases out the mechanics of sound and sound recording in a style that is at once satisfying, clean and technically rich.

Some weeks ago Steven contacted Trebuchet’s editorial team with news that makes instantly trivial the quotidian annoyances of life. South-coast storms, commuter hassles, work frustrations: forget them, and wonder how you’d live if you knew you were dying. Carpe diem, or curl up in a ball and sob? An abstract and distant piece of philosophical fluff for most of us, worthy of no more than the fuzzy platitudes gumming up our Twitter feeds and prompting cynical exasperation as we press ‘mute’.

Steven M. Miller calmly and clearly explains how the reality works:


How would you live your life, if you knew there wasn’t much life left to live?

How would you choose to spend your days? What would matter, and what would you let fall by the wayside? These are just a few of the things you begin thinking about – or at least I did – when told you have a fatal incurable disease.

I was diagnosed with ALS  – also known variously as Lou Gehrig’s Disease and Motor Neuron Disease – a little over a month ago. I’m 48 years old, and – statistically speaking – will very possibly not live to see 50. I have a wife and a young daughter. I have dear friends I love. I have parents who, for now the second time in their lives, have heard news no parent should ever have to hear. And I’ve spent the past weeks trying to get a little perspective on all of this.

That’s mostly what

I want. I want her

to remember me.

Mostly what I’ve been thinking about is how to tell my daughter. She just turned 5 a few months back. How do I tell her what’s going on for me, with me, to me; what the inevitable outcome will be? How do I tell her all the things I want to say that I’ll never get the chance to? How do I even begin to share with her all the wonderful, beautiful, crazy, things the world has to offer? How do I help her learn the values, attitudes, and life skills that will serve her well to face all the things the world will throw at her and also to appreciate the richness of its wonders?

A oicture of a sunset by Carl Byron Batson

So, I’ve decided to write; to make a sort of time capsule of things she can read some day when it will make more sense to her. We’ve also been taking more family photos and videos. We’ve been recording some dinner table conversations and me reading her bedtime stories. Some day she can listen and remember. That’s mostly what I want. I want her to remember me. When she turns sweet 16, graduates from high school and college, gets married, has children, or whatever her life might bring, I want to somehow be there for her.

And while I’m still with her, I want her to see the wonder and beauty of the everyday. I want her to know the world is a place she can explore and learn from – and that this need never end. This is how I want to live what life I have left.

Steven M. Miller
Singapore, October 2013

Photo: Carl Byron Batson. Not to be reproduced without prior permission.

Steven M. Miller
About Steven M. Miller 9 Articles
Steven M. Miller is a composer, sound artist, and improviser whose work and interests intersect sound, culture, technology, and the arts. Also an avid photographer, his formal training includes music, audio recording/production, electroacoustics, and interactive media. www.stevenmmiller.net