Friday, January 04, 2008


One of my favorite songs a couple of years ago was Matchbox 20's Unwell. Back then I, like many people, still joked about being crazy. After watching what happened to my dad, and seeing it in his mother, it's not funny anymore.

What are we if we are not ourselves?

And feeling pretty sure that is my fate, too, it has really changed my perspective on my life and its meaning and purpose. I am still working through it all, but for the first time I am truly realizing that in life none of "this" matters to anyone but me anyway.

As I've thought about my father's life now that it's ended and his life force is gone from all of us, I am reminded of the opening scenes of a Jeff Goldbum movie I saw years ago where he makes elaborate dishes and then tosses them into the garbage. It seems like such a waste of time and effort to do that, but right now I feel like that is a good analogy for life. We spend so much time and effort ... and for what? Jeff's character just enjoyed the process, it didn't matter to him that there was no purpose after the dish was done. But that's never been enough for me. While I should learn to enjoy the process of any task, I like to know there is more purpose for all my effort.

Another voice in my head reminds me of the Epicureans who believe(d) that we should eat, drink & be merry for our time on earth is short, something I have believed for a while. But still, it's easier to do that in ignorance of the unknown rather than with first-hand experience with dementia. (And the truth is hearing the diagnosis spoken glibly from a doctor in a smug "I was right" tone, together with the description of a shrinking brain and wrong colored matter was in itself traumatic.)

The book of Ecclesiastes contains a message similar to the Epicurean philosophy. The author arrives at his conclusion after noting that there is nothing new under the sun and all seems like chasing wind. He puts it so well when he says, "Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun." (Ecc 2:11, NIV) That is how I feel right now.


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