Thursday, May 31, 2012

Perpetual Striving

We all yearn for something.  We strive for that which is just out of reach.

The dreams of childhood are infinite.  Unhindered by the shackles of the adult brain, the young mind believes that if it can be imagined, then it can be done.  My son's room becomes a library with shelves of homemade books and irregular paper check out cards.  The backyard will be my daughter's swimming pool and she digs relentlessly at the ground in front of  the garage.  For every barricade there is an alternate route.  This is the joyous frolic of the first decade.   The exuberance of youth is undeterred by the adult concept of possibility.

The yearnings of the middle aged are restless and hurried.  We contemplate our accomplishments and recognize that we are young no more.  The blood flows through our chest hungrily.  The time to make our mark is receding as the sands of the hour glass mercilessly make their pilgrimage.  We are vaguely aware of the nagging voices that follow us into our bed at night.  They whisper.  That book is still unwritten.  That promotion will go to someone else.  That inheritance is fading into the slop of a bad economy.  This is a time of unfulfilled potential.

The sorrow of the elderly is palpable as they walk into my office.  Under the weight of their failing bodies lies the discontent of moments lost.  It is too late to reconnect with that unrequited love or mend the fence that was so carelessly broken.  The heart, however, refuses to lie dormant.  The promise of better health, new accomplishments, and continued adoration refuses to pause for human frailty.

To live is to hope.
To hope is to dream.
To dream is to breath.

I have watched people die.  I have hovered in doorways and sat at bedsides as the humanness has faded leaving a mass of inanimate tissue.  There is a time of struggle where breaths are uneven and labored.  Voices are raspy and mouths are dry.  This may last for minutes or days.

Yet, without a doubt, at the pinnacle of the dying process there is often a moment of calm.  The chest moves evenly and the facial muscles unclench.  It is in this moment that I wonder if we can let go of the persistent longing of the living.  The sickly pause for clarity and peace before they pass on to the unknown.  For once they are still and become one with their surroundings.

Maybe this is the message of the dying.  That in letting going of perpetual striving, we may find the acceptance that so eludes us in life.

As I leave the room to write the death note, I vow that I will learn the secret of stillness.  But in the seconds that follow, I smirk at my own folly.

Even in this I am still very much alive,

for I have started to strive again.


Diane said...

QDid not know if you have visited this site:

But your writing is captivating and sensitive to both the Dr. and patient, and would love to see your writing posted on their page, I suspect they would agree.

Jordan Grumet said...


See below.