My first known attempt, at least in a long while, of taking on an audiobook was quite a struggle but I finally finished Being Mortal by Atul Gawande early this morning. A huge thanks to Dr. Carl for the recommendation.
I’m facing the same finite life we all have been given, it’s just that hopefully most of us will gradually lose it in our elderly years so I would hope to expect or prefer. But those of us like me who get to face these facts prematurely, though not preferred, offers the same perspective of putting our lives into perspective and faced with choices of courage or what I’ve mentioned before, fear v’s hope.
Courage is strength in the face of knowledge of what is to be feared or hoped. Wisdom is prudent strength.
Though the book shares many stories of the author/doctor’s experience with patients in assisted living and nursery homes, he also has to share in the decisions made in many terminally ill patients. His take away is about not about simply extending life, but the value of life. I find this relatable as I made my decision early on when choosing my chemo treatment that I always choose quality over quantity. One treatment was more aggressive, and had a higher rate of survival. The other offered the opposite. My thought process was I would much prefer to have a good 4 months as opposed to a bad 6 months given that I only had about 20% chance of making past that mark. Certainly the pinnacle decision of my diagnosis.
But most importantly as the author points out is ending life is about legacy, stories, memories, and assuring we get to leave these behind on our own terms. That’s what my past year has been about and why the travels, visits, and writing has become my mantra.
In the end, people don’t view their life as merely the average of all its moments—which, after all, is mostly nothing much plus some sleep. For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story. A story has a sense of a whole, and its arc is determined by the significant moments, the ones where something happens. Measurements of people’s minute-by-minute levels of pleasure and pain miss this fundamental aspect of human existence. A seemingly happy life maybe empty. A seemingly difficult life may be devoted to a great cause. We have purposes larger than ourselves.
Though it took me like a month to finally get to the last chapter is was the best part of the book and was quite an awakening ironically as I was trying to find sleep this morning.
There are many great moments and lessons in this book. Here is a link to more of the quotes/lessons like I shared above.