My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood. The ’80s were about acquiring — acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn’t I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn’t I pay for an evening with friends? It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don’t know who will lead us through the ’90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul….I was wrong to follow the meanness of Conservatism. I should have been trying to help people instead of taking advantage of them. I don’t hate anyone anymore. For the first time in my life I don’t hate somebody. I have nothing but good feelings toward people. I’ve found Jesus Christ – It’s that simple. He’s made a difference. (Reagan’s campaign manager “death-bed confession” in Feb. 1991 article for Life Magazine )
Well, you could rejuvenate a man like a tree. Cut off bad memories of him, scrape off all pain, all disappointments, like dead tissue; cut off mistakes, stupid decisions, mistakes, x-ray thoughts. And that it could be done after each winter so that the new year could come clean and innocent. We know—one of the following winters will kill us.
In this one life, this one life that you have to live, you must embrace every moment that creeps into your existence. You must feel every possible emotion to realize you’re really alive, you’re really living. If you build walls and you hide behind them in fear, you’re not embracing moments, you’re not actually living.