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This paragraph is taken from Lewis Thomas, "The Long Habit," Lives of a Cell
In a nineteenth-century memoir on an expedition in Africa, there is a story by David Livingston about his own experience of near-death. He was caught by a lion, crushed across the chest in the animal's great jaws, and saved in the instant by a lucky shot from a friend. Later, he remembered the episode in clear detail. He was so amazed by the extraordinary sense of peace, calm, and total painlessness associated with being killed that he constructed a theory that all creatures are provided with a protective psychologic mechanism, switched on at the verge of death, carrying them through it in a haze of tranquility.