“The Right to Die . . . The Will to Live”

Good Tuesday Morning from my office,

I am between classes and trying to write a blog post in a matter of 25 minutes. I was in WI this past week because Lydia, the neighbor for whom I care, had some significant health issues as she is sadly moving toward the end of life. When I arrived in Menomonie on Wednesday evening, she was still up and she was aware that I was coming to visit. She was sitting at her table, as is often the case, and looking at the magazine section of the previous Sunday’s New York Times. The title of the cover article for that week was the title of my blog post. While she did not have her glasses on, so I am quite sure she was not reading, the irony of the title and the situation, which necessitated my need to fly back, cannot be overstated. Long-story-short, she has stabilized, but I believe all the things that occurred this past week certainly took their toll on her aging body and mind.

Then to complicate matters of the quick trip, I was in the airport grading and trying to manage my summer classes and managed to miss my flight. Then to make it even worse, I did it twice, so the last flight of the night was also not available and I ended up renting a car and driving from Chicago to Bloomsburg yesterday, about 700 miles, which was also brutal. This morning in class I am working on helping them prepare for the final six days of class, and schedule their priorities and time effectively. I also need to do the same. It is hard to believe that this time next month, we are already into the first week of the fall semester. I think the month between now and then will be difficult. Then with Lydia’s impending health situation, there will be another layer of “what if?” added. Sleep, hydration, and discipline will be the call for the entire fall.

This past week I was reminded of what life is all about . . .  or at least required to reflect upon it. Reflection is the very thing I asked of my morning class and will be asking of my next class, which meets in about 8 minutes. Through their electronic portfolios, they are asked to reflect upon what they have learned and to decide how the artifacts they post demonstrate some sense of how they have met the student learning outcomes for the course. What was particularly clear to me this morning was this: we are not reflective, or nearly as reflective as we should be, about what we do, or why we do it. What might happen if we merely slowed down and took the time to think and analyze? Instead, we seem to be speeding up. We have to get everything done immediately. We need to know everything immediately (hence or affair with our technology). Before we can reflect we are on to the next seemingly important thing. We are awash in information,  but much like I was overwhelmed in those de-embarkation exercises on the ship (I was throwing up from being seasick), I am overwhelmed now by all the stuff (and I want to react much the same way).

Maybe, while I still have breath in me, I will to live in another manner. Maybe then, I will find the right to die much more peaceful.

Just some thoughts,

Dr. Martin

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