Monday, May 09, 2011

This corruptible body

For my weekend job, I work with the aging population. When I see that one of my patients has not yet reached 80, I automatically think, "young." It is enjoyable for me to chat with these people who have experienced so much. I often ask for their wisdom, and try to listen carefully to what they say.

All of the responses from people on the upper end of this age spectrum are strikingly similar when I ask for their secrets on making it to that age: "You don't want to get this old."
Man or woman, chronically ill or healthy as a horse, the answer tends to be the same after the age of 90. And what do I say? I don't tell them there's plenty for them to live for, even if I think there must be--because I am not in their position.

Plenty of these people are suffering. But their comments are not necessarily drawn from their ailments. Younger patients with far worse ailments are not ready to leave this world.
One elderly woman in her late nineties--whose only current "medication" is a daily multivitamin--said to me, "I wake up, and I wonder if today I'm going to move. And then I do move. And I make it through another day. But I'm ready to go."
She is not depressed. Unlike many of her peers, she is not visibly ill. She is active and, by all outward appearances, still enjoying life. Yet she is honest when I ask her about her secret.

These are not suicidal tendencies. They are sincere expressions of fatigue, coming from corruptible bodies. I believe it is evidence of the natural human lifespan. No matter what advances medical science achieves, humans will be ready to leave this world within a century of birth.

Because really, we're made for something beyond this.

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