Monday, April 04, 2005

Culture of Life

The news is all of death and dying.

First of all we had the intense news coverage of the feuding over Terri Schiavo. Illuminated with old video of this unfortunate brain-damaged woman. Clearly the body was well and the mind was gone. Sadly her mind had really died 15 years ago and her life was much too short and unfulfilled.

Almost at the same time we had the pope's death. The mind was active almost until the end but we had watched the body slowly and painfully deteriorate in recent years. A long life and one of outstanding achievement. But still a slow, painful end full of suffering.

Then this weekend I learned of the recent death of one of my cousins. Actually the first death of a cousin. And she was almost exactly my age and had fought cancer for 10 years. One is reminded of one's own mortality when a parent dies. But when the first family member of the same generation as oneself dies, it becomes even more apparent that our time is not unlimited.

To make things worse yesterday we watched the movie Notebook. It's a chick-flick of course. A sweet romance. But interlaced with a story about a deranged woman in a nursing home whose connection to the young lovers is not immediately apparent. Another sad way for life to end.

How depressing. A brain damaged vegetative state. Painful diseases piling on top of each other. A long, losing fight with cancer. Senile dementia. Fates that none of us wish for ourselves.

What to do? Just keep on living every day to the full. Sailing is a big part of my attempts to stave off the decline of old age as long as possible. Physically it keeps me active and gives me a motivation to stay fit. Mentally it challenges me. Socially it keeps me involved with people of all ages including young children.

Maybe it's just denial. But I do sort of believe the old saying that we all have an allotted number of days on this earth but the days we spend sailing don't get counted.

Or as Jimmy Buffett put it, "I'd rather die while I'm living than live while I'm dead".

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