Every category that you could classify someone under has different spectrums within it. This is why it becomes so difficult to assign identities to groups.
It is common for younger generations to throw hate toward elder generations, simply because the majority of the “boomer” population have similar views and prejudgements about the younger generations. But there is still a reason why it is also sort of a… trope, if you will, that elders are wise. But it has nothing to do with the physical age of their body.
Have you ever heard of someone referred to as an “old soul?” It’s usually used to describe young people who have a distinct wisdom in their ways. Like my son, for example. The things that he said and the ways that his beautiful mind worked, everyone could tell that he wasn’t a child on the inside. And sadly, he died before his time, but had he lived, he would have aged into what people may refer to as a “wiseman.”
When he learned of his diagnosis, he handled it with more grace and more stability than anyone I have ever known. He didn’t cry. Occasionally, he would have spells of rage, but those were only brought on by the steroid that they used to keep the swelling down in his head. Once his body was used to the medications, he became just this old little young little man with wisdom and serenity that I wish more than anything I could be. He was and still is an inspiration to anyone who hears the stories we tell about him.
We never saw him show any indication that he was sad. He stayed strong, and he fought to survive with every last ounce of strength he had left until his brain literally could not function to keep him alive anymore. Human bodies are so fragile and pathetic. But his soul was far from. Even in the days and weeks and months leading up to his death, despite the suffering pain of being immobilized and fed through a tube, he continued to indicate that he wanted to continue the fight. I fought against doctors and ethic boards and family members and even myself sometimes, but I never gave up because he never did.
Even when he could no longer use words, he found ways to communicate with me. I would ask him if he was ready to go, and he wouldn’t answer. But when I asked if he wanted to keep fighting, he would squeeze my hand and attempt to vocalize, even if it was a grunt. So, even though I was chastised for “prolonging his suffering,” and even though sometimes I catch myself wondering if I did the right thing, I always come back to the fact that I only did what he wanted. And I knew him well enough to know that that’s what he wanted. I fought for him, and Nebraska’s medical staff did not. The medical staff who are fucking around with Covid-19 like it’s just some sort of spoken curse than you can avoid by covering your eyes and ears and humming. But it isn’t. And they know it isn’t. And they knew that there were different things that we could have tried that would have helped buy him more time. But they refused those things. And whether it was over money or because they simply thought they knew what was best for him when what was really best was simply to respect his wishes, the point is, they were wrong. Money isn’t worth a human life. And taking away someone’s right to try to spend as much time alive as possible, even if that time is painful, is the same as murder.
Again, I say that if you think you can force anyone to die because of what you think is right, then you absolutely must not stop those who are suffering from choosing when they are ready to stop it. The right thing to do in life or death situations is obey the choice of the person whose life is at stake. It is their right to decide. Do not treat others the way you want to be treated. Treat them how they want to be treated. And rest assured that you have done the right thing.
When I began this entry, I had originally come to talk about identity and what it means to be unique and why labels are a double-edged blade. But since it has seemed to digress into a different direction, I will instead send this one off with a new title and come back again later to revisit my initial topic.
At the bottom of it all, I want to say that you can be pro-life without not being pro-choice. Sometimes pro-life is pro-choice. And if you’re thinking about ending your life, please at least do the following:
-Give the decision some very deep and scrutinous thought before you really make your move.
-Do not leave any loose threads. Get everything squared up and away so that you aren’t leaving anyone with the burden of your unfinished business.
-Write an essay, record a video, do a podcast. Whatever medium you choose is fine, but you need to explain your reasoning. Don’t leave anyone wondering why you chose to do it, and don’t leave anyone with the burden of thinking that it was their fault. Express your feelings as transparently as possible. Acknowledge the pain that you will likely cause, but do not discount your own feelings either.
It is my personal belief that physical death is not game over. The things that make death a terrifying and painful ordeal are the ambiguity of the unknown and the time spent waiting to find out. We will all get there eventually. So all we can do is accept it and look forward to it. The unknown doesn’t have to be scary. It can be exciting and exhilarating. It’s the ability to let go and try something new. All you need is the trust that when you leave your body, you will not lose your consciousness. That consciousness is what it means to exist. And while science may tell you that, to some degree, your body dictates your consciousness, consider the following:
Memories come and go. Sometimes, something that you thought you had completely forgotten returns very suddenly, and then you can’t possibly imagine how you could have forgotten it. Think of our brains like hard drives. There is only so much space for information storage. So what do we do when our computers can no longer hold the information? We upload it to the “cloud.” It can still be accessed from anywhere in time and space as long as you have the passcode. Files can be shuffled around and traded off to save space and are only dowloaded again when they are needed. Maybe each time you recall a long-lost memory, you also send an unnecessary one back to the cloud until it becomes necessary again. And maybe once your hard drive stops working, you pack up the remaining files and escape to the cloud to keep them safe.
Perhaps you meet up with some of the consciousnesses that you enjoyed time with, or maybe you find out that there are only maybe a handful of consciousnesses and you all channel yourselves into life as we know it, for fun, sort of like a video game.
Or maybe you find out that it’s just you. And all of existence was just a thing you made to occupy yourself.
You won’t know until you get there. But while you’re here, make the most of it. And when it’s time to go, embark on the next stage of your journey with serenity and grace. Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. And expect that it will meet somewhere in between.