Yesterday, Richard Adams died. Many might not know who he is, and his death might be overshadowed by Carrie Fisher’s extremely sad passing.
But my sadness lies primarily with Mr. Adams. He changed my life without me ever meeting him. His words in the famous “Watership Down” helped me through depression and even through high school (that’s when you know something is seriously helpful). I read this book at least twice per year, and every time I read it, I learn more about the world around me and about myself.
“Watership Down” is an adventure story about rabbits. Whenever I try to explain what it is about, it’s hard to truly encapsulate the many messages put forth by Mr. Adams. The story may revolve around rabbits, but it has taught me more about bravery, friendship, home, death, and the true meaning of life than any story about humans I have encountered. Each time I read it, I am overwhelmed by a sense of serenity, as though it is helping me exist in this dangerous, scary world.
Watership Down tells the story of a group of rabbits who must leave their home and venture into the world of many perils in order to find a new place to call their own. They meet many dangers, including death, but they use their cunning, their friendship, and their faith in order to find their safe haven.
Throughout, we are told lessons of the earth: to treat animals kindly, to not spoil the natural world, and essentially to treat our world with the respect it deserves.
“There’s terrible evil in the world.”
“It comes from men,” said Holly. “All other elil do what they have to do and Frith moves them as he moves us. They live on the earth and they need food. Men will never rest till they’ve spoiled the earth and destroyed the animals.”
As someone who was (and still is to an extent) terrified of dying, this book provides perspective and acceptance of the inevitable, while still being hopeful and bright about the time we do have. “What is, is what must be” and we must accept that the time we have here is precious. There is even a rabbit that represents death in this book that now permanently stains my skin to remind me of the reality of life, and how to live life with purpose and with kind respect.
My own heart has joined the thousand of enemies we all face, for my friend Mr. Adams has stopped running. He will be missed, but his words will continue to touch and inspire many more, as they did for me.