Sunday, August 5, 2007

Is This Living?

This was a question posed not long ago on one of the Alzheimer's forums I visit. The person who posted described some of the devastating symptoms of Alzheimer's and how much those same symptoms diminish the life of the patient. The poster wondered whether the resulting life was so diminished that it could be even called "living."

As so often happens to me this post made me think about what I fundamentally believe and how I would answer this question.

I remember not so very long ago when I wondered about my own life. I wasn't physically ill. But in the span of a few months I lost so much that I thought had defined my life. In the midst of grief and struggle and pain it is easy and natural to question whether life is worthwhile.

But the strange thing is that many people also question whether their life is worthwhile in the midst of ease and plenty.

Every age group is susceptible to suicide, too. Sick or healthy, male or female, genius or dunce, white or black, religious or not, all groups seem to have suicides.

Alzheimer's is a terrible disease. But there are not very many good diseases. Diseases are different. I have seen people suffer and die. In fact a lot of the people I know are dead now.

I was thinking the other day that only a few of my family are on this side of life. Most of them are on the other side.

I was wrong when I grieved those things I thought I lost in my life. I was wrong because I conceived of life as "doing." Oh, I was not totally wrong because doing things is a part of life and it is not wrong to miss the doing.

Fundamentally life is about being.

1 comment:

~Betsy said...

Yes life is definetely about being. I know what you mean when you say the doing part can easily define you, but when you are in a situation life we are and watch someone we love struggle with the most basic tasks, it does make you wonder. My mother really isn't being or doing - she is simply existing. She gets little joy from her life, yet the tiny moments of happiness we share from time to time make life worth being. It's a catch-22 - quite profound.