Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The name of the game, choices and no choice

Living is a process of relinquishing possibilities one by one until, in a final paroxysm of letting go, we die. This yielding up of potential ALWAYS hurts, is mostly necessary and engages our will only in the choosing, when we are awake to the choice, of whether or not to slow the losses through restraint and exertion, through swimming upstream from the roaring waterfall. If you seek contentment, learn to get joy out of being a strong, smart swimmer. Only in stories has anyone come back to tell you what is over and beyond the falls. The "truth" of such stories is irrelevant. The multiplicity of such stories is the fact I deal with. But fear of death and the will to self preservation both function badly when we get them mixed up. What is there to be afraid of? You cannot possibly know!

To live in denial of the inevitable or be obsessed by it is to waste all the moments leading up to the inevitable.

Between those two extremes of reaction is the slowest place in the current, swim there or at least don't be swept away so fast.

Actually, denial is just obsession in the form of a burdensome lie.

Denial frees obsession from challenges, letting the object of dread hold court just out of consciousness. A portion of the mind is devoted, seeing yet not seeing, much like a rabbit hypnotized by wide jaws of the tiger.

Balance in between. To be mindful that you wrestle with the angel of death one doughnut at a time is only as morose and hobbling as life itself: not at all.

Whereas you could still have fun using will and wits to swim a few extra miles into the current, your cardiologist, oncologist and pharmacist get no joy out of patching what you have neglected. They just get your money. They'd be tickled to coach you and happier still if you needed no benefit they can offer. When they took their oath to do no harm, they did not say under their breath "Let the patient do the harm". You won't seek their best help until you know the name of the game is neither "living" nor "dying".


Dr. Forbush said...

This is an interesting post. I don't know if you listen to "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross, but this post and today's show struck an interesting chord. She interviewed Dan Gottlieb a paraplegic psychology radio talk show host. He made the interesting comment that he never allowed himself to be who he was until the accident. The accident took away his ability to walk, but also took away the worry that he might not be able to be the ideal person that he imagined he should be. This freed him to be himself.

When we realized that death is inevitable we realize that every moment is important.

GreenSmile said...

Fascinating. I recently heard much the same insight, reported as a observation Christopher Reeves made of his own state of mind after his paralyzing accident. He claimed to actually be more content with himself than he was before the accident. He wound up knowing that the percieved shortcomings of a life with no conventionally recognized external limitations was keeping him from seeing other dimensions of will and self realization that are available to us all.