Sunday, June 21, 2009

End of Life?

It's the last day before my residency officially begins. I spent part of the morning relaxing in our new living room where the clutter of our recent move is less prominent. A cup of coffee, the last chapters of Tuesdays With Morrie and an unusually cool June breeze accompanied me on the couch. I didn't really know what this book was about when I picked it up the other week, sparing it from the boxes to which our other books were relegated. On the surface it is about dying, but really, it's about living. Although our "Western" (or American) culture attempts to divorce aging and death from the journey of life, the story of Morrie Schwartz calls for a counter-cultural view of life and death. I have always thought that a quick and painless death would be ideal, but Morrie's long ordeal with ALS gave him time to face death head on, reflecting on what his life had meant and, most importantly, living fully despite his physically crippling illness. His conversations with the author are a powerful challenge to live life thoughtfully, with love and purpose. Some see residency training, particularly intern year (that is, the first year), as a figurative end of life. I'm taking a more optimistic view, but check in with me in a few months.