Posts Tagged ‘Crossfit’
“Eating healthy is too expensive.” How often have you heard some version of that phrase. Whether it be Zone, Paleo, Whole 30, or just “stay out of the middle of the grocery store”, this is uttered with some degree of exasperation and oppression with a kind of mind-numbing, self-fulfilling frequency. There is an overarching sense of deprivation here, a feeling that it’s just impossible to find the money to eat lean protein or fresh fruits and vegetables.
How so? Per the folks at Whole Foods, regularly skewered for being too expensive (seriously, they sell fancy potatoes), on average we in America spend 7% of our disposable personal income–that’s SEVEN–on food. 50 years ago that number was 16%. We now spend less than 1/2 of our after-tax income on food compared with what we spent 50 years ago.
And eating well is too expensive.
If we dig deeper into that stat alone we see that modern food production has decreased the cost of food relative to both income and inflation. The cost of producing food of all kinds has risen much more slowly than income. Why? Partly because junk carb-laden food is cheap. High-fructose corn syrup costs a fraction of grain sugar. Corn-fed protein with or without pharmaceuticals is grown faster and cheaper than grass-fed. Stuff like that. Less expensive to produce/incomes risen over 50 years at a greater rate across the entire spectrum, top to bottom.
How then is it too expensive to eat a more healthy diet. We have 9% of our after-tax income to play with, right? Even I can do that math. Is some other necessity (shelter, transportation, medical care, etc) eating that up? What are we doing with that 9% that we can’t find some of it to eat better? Ah, Grasshopper, now we begin to see. It’s a ‘Nando thing, it’s superficial. It’s not how healthy you are, it’s how you look, or feel, or something like that.
Some stuff might be more expensive; it probably really is more expensive to put a roof over your head in Manhattan nowadays, both the Island and the Beach. The seemingly obvious culprits are actually false targets (eg. healthcare which for this audience represents only a tiny % of new cost compared with 50 years ago because of insurance, govt. programs, etc.). Nope, it’s how we CHOOSE to spend that freed-up 9% .
Think about that household in the 1960′s or even the 70′s. Average of 6 people under that roof. One car. One TV. One radio. Once purchased all data was free. A pair of shoes and a pair of boots. Sneaks if you were a jock. You didn’t get your hair done if you were a guy, you got a haircut. You didn’t get your acrylics touched up every 2 weeks; if you wanted long nails you grew ‘em. Stuff like that.
Fast forward to today and think about the stuff you’ve acquired, stuff you are convinced you can’t live without, stuff that costs money, cash that you choose to spend every single day. The ratio of drivers to cars in a household is seldom less than 1.5/1. The ratio of phones to people over the age of 10 is seldom less than 1/1, often more than 1/1 if you add in a landline upstairs, downstairs, and in every bathroom. It’s not enough to have a cellphone, or even a cellphone with an unlimited text plan, nope, it’s gotta be a SMARTphone that will let you post your thoughts on today’s weather in Bimini to FB. Right now, from anywhere. If you don’t have Netflix available on each of the 4 flat-screen TV’s in the house you are considered a Luddite.
Listen, I certainly am not saying that all that stuff isn’t great, that it’s not a ton of fun and really convenient (as I type on one of the Apple products that literally litter our household, through my WiFi network, in front of my LightBright lamp, in the bathroom), or anything like that. What I most certainly AM saying, though, is that people who whine about how hard it is to afford to eat better almost always do so via a FB post from their iPhone 5 while sitting in the salon having their hair done, hungover from too much Bellevedere they consumed last night while noshing on Doritos smothered in Cheez-Wiz.
9 %. The stark reality is that we have let our things become more important than ourselves. We are choosing Apples alright, just not the ones we find in the outer aisle of Whole Foods.
I’m the words guy. There’s no word here. You’ve probably heard or seen this before. In every language, as far as I know, there is a word that describes the state of having lost a family member. Widow or widower, orphan.
There is no word in any language that I know that so names a parent who has lost a child. Think about that. This is such an unnatural state, so upside down, that the a signature trait that defines us as a species (complex language) is silent. All of the various languages that reflect countless cultures both current and long gone, and not a single word that immediately conjures an image as accurately as “orphan” for those who have buried their offspring.
Not a single word.
We are now in the middle of the Christmas holiday season in the Christian world. The suburban version includes various and sundry versions of the “Christmas Party”. Beth and I attended two last night. I had, oh, 50 or so distinct conversations. 50 little “Groundhog Day” chats catching everyone up on my own children. For my part I asked only one question: “how are your kids?” I imagine something more similar than different everywhere in the world when parents gather.
“How are the kids?”
My son Randy (Lil’bingo) and I attended a really moving CrossFit event yesterday, one in which a really significant sum was raised to aid the family of a handicapped child (kudos to CrossFit Cleveland). We met a couple of brand new Moms with first borns velcro’d or strapped or otherwise attached in parenthood 1.0. I’m one of the “wise old men” of the local CF scene (hey, when did THAT happen?), and I shared with these young Moms my view that the arrival of your first child is the single biggest life-changing moment one can experience. I always say that, and the young Moms and Dads always shake weary heads and sleepy eyes in agreement, and I silently pray as I speak that the words I’ve spoken will ring ever true, for I know in my heart that I am lying to these children holding their children.
The single biggest life-changing moment one can experience is to learn that you have lost your child.
You know someone who has heard this news; we all do. They are never the same. They will never be the same. I meet people in their 80′s who lose a child in their 60′s and honestly, it looks the same. It’s unnatural. It’s not the way it’s supposed to happen, no matter how it happens. It’s so upside down that we have no word for the survivors.
I know that I am lying to these young parents because I once stood on the edge of this abyss. Stood so close that if I let myself lean just a little bit I could look over the edge, see the blackness, the emptiness, the cold. Nothing, and I really do mean nothing, has affected me ever in my life as profoundly as that one quick look, that one peek that I just couldn’t keep myself from taking at what life would be like if I’d lost my child. I can’t shake it. It’s been years and I can’t shake it. It informs everything about my life, how I live my life, how I find the good in most everything, the fact that I was not plunged into the abyss. I did not lose my child. My child lived.
There is really no lesson here, Dear Friends. No teachable moment today, just a most sincere hope and prayer for each and every parent among you that you will never stand at the edge of that abyss, let alone be plunged into its depths. Just the most sincere hope that there will continue to be a word that describes you throughout your life, as my wife Beth and I have thankfully continued to be blessed. Indeed, there is a word in every language in the history of our species to describe those so blessed, a name for each of us.
Mom or Dad.
“…Little Boy Blue and the Man In The Moon. When you coming home son? I don’t know when…”
None of us gets out of this life alive, eh? Here on the West Side of Cleveland the obituaries are known as the “Irish Sports Page”, read by all on a daily basis. My older patients like to joke that they read it each morning just to make sure their name isn’t on it. Old joke, but like all good jokes it cuts just close enough to the truth.
Typically a couple of pages, the “Irish Sports Page” is often 3 or 4 pages long for a week or two in early January. It’s funny how that happens, how so many folks simply will themselves another month or two, another chance to gather round the Yule Log, usher in another New Year. Those of us who are younger either wish for that one more Holiday together or are caught short in surprise when the post-Holiday departure occurs. Or both.
We all live on borrowed time, borrowed for yourselves and borrowed on behalf of our loved ones. Some teeter on the brink of ultimate disaster, each hour alive somehow cheating the Grim Reaper, every day a bit of a pleasant surprise. If this goes on long enough it’s possible to forget just how tenuous is the lifethread that secures that particular life. We can forget how thin is that one, fragile line if it holds firmly enough, long enough.
So it is that I find myself this year as a thread already thin begins to fray. How fortunate we have been, my siblings and I, on borrowed time for decades. How blessed to have our entire family, still, so long after the first calamity that we had begun to pretend that it would just be this way forever.
I have seen this play before. Indeed, I see it every January at work, every January in the Irish Sports Page. There’s an almost out-of-body sense, a “looking in someone’s window” feeling like Ebenezer Scrooge accompanied by the Ghost of Christmas Future. There’s a dull ache in my soul when I think of this coming January and the Irish Sports Page.
Time waits for no one my Brothers and Sisters. We plot and we plan and we offer “we really should get together”, and the seasons…well…they just keep coming and going. I am as guilty as you, as guilty as anyone. We put off our gatherings, “we’ll get together at Christmas”, and eventually Christmas stops coming. Prepare for a long life, but at some point, for someone who is important to you, life is short.
“…we’ll get together then, Dad. We’re gonna have a good time, then.”
What have you done, or what are you doing, to make yourself better? Not just in the Box, not just more fit, but in general.
We talk about the transference of the stress response from the WOD to life, how our willingness to put ourselves under significant physical duress teaches us that we can, indeed, perform at times of stress. This really happens; your neuro-endocrine stress response really does require a bigger stimulus to fire in that way that makes you “freeze up” after you’ve been dosed with the CrossFit prescription.
There is more to be learned in the Box or wherever you do your own version of CrossFit, of course. We learn to look at people differently once we’ve done CrossFit side-by-side, or once we’ve shared our results here. It becomes less “what do you look like?” and “what did you say?” but more “what did you do?” and “how did you do it?”. This trait has gone with me out of the gym, been transferred to the larger and more inclusive domains of my non-CrossFit worlds.
Every day, in countless Affiliates, commercial gyms, and garages, folks who do CrossFit are engaged in the active pursuit of “better.” A thinner band, a first Pull-up, a kip, a butterfly…an endless pursuit of ‘better’ at what we do in our pursuit of fitness. This, too, should transfer, eh?
There is a willingness to try new things in CrossFit, often things that are at first glance simply unimaginable. “You want me to do WHAT with that Kettlebell?!” It’s a kind of knowing fearlessness, a faith in self and a belief in self that comes from choosing to enter that dark place where we know it will be hard, but we’ve learned it will be worth it. This openness to trying new things, to learn new stuff in the pursuit of a generally better you should transfer too.
The concept of transference from Box to life is one more of those things which was discovered after the fact of CrossFit. In my day job I deal with neuroplasticity, the re-wiring of the adult brain in response to purposeful stimuli. Al!ison Be!ger’s work shows us that our pre-wiring for connection in response to shared experience explains the CrossFit community. My experience with neural training to enhance vision explains in part the transference of the stress response.
Our willingness to try new things, to learn new things in the pursuit of greater fitness, can also become ingrained. Wired. It can become just one more example of transference. “Constantly learn” need not apply only to “new sports”, nor does “and play” necessarily have to apply only to “new sports”. I’ve found not only an increase in my curiosity about things far removed from my knowns and knowables, but also a willingness to brave what it takes to learn and play new ones in the pursuit of some better version of me.
So, what are you doing today to apply what you have learned in the gym in the pursuit of a better ‘you’ tomorrow?
1) Floss. Floss and then brush, or brush and then floss?
It’s the new “over or under” for a new century.
2) Flossing. Traditional PT, rest, injections? All ineffective, ultimately. Several sessions with a Voodoo Floss band sandwiching a trip to Savannah? No pain.
Do the Voodoo.
3) Epic. “There are decades where nothing happens; there are weeks where decades happen.” –Lenin
Do you have that same, eerie sense that one of those weeks is nigh?
4) 35. It seems that most Nobel Laureates make their signature discoveries before the age of 35. They may not get the word out right away, and given the average age of Nobel Laureates they certainly don’t receive recognition for those discoveries until years or decades later. Some of our non-Laureated geniuses certainly came up with their stuff pre-35 for sure. See Gates, Bill et al.
Doing a little math with a calendar in front of me it looks like a certain guy we know, a trainer with a little math in his educational background, came up with an idea at age 35 that has turned out to be pretty important in the fitness world.
A little thing called CrossFit.
5) Reel. Real life in many ways is more like the CrossFit Games than it is like CrossFit training. In the Games we have winners and non-winners; in the Box we have you vs. you. We are trained it seems from early in life to not only compare ourselves with others, but to allow ourselves to be compared BY others. In this we somehow allow the creation of a zero-sum game of our own sense of self, and we allow the scores to be kept by others as well as ourselves.
Kinda like all those singing contests now on TV; the judges are supposed to be judging only the contestant singing at the moment, the contestant to be focused only on herself and the judges. Invariably though, both judges and judged compare the contestant with others, for this is an openly zero-sum game. Someone will only win because everyone else lost.
I’m more than OK with this for the Games, and I’m quite fine with this for all of those silly contests (which I admit are a guilty pleasure Chez bingo). There is a real problem, however, if we allow this kind of process, this kind of judging, to be a metric for how we view ourselves. We have an unavoidable frame of reference bias that threatens even the healthiest among us when we use these external controls to judge our internal outcomes.
Why? We tend to compare our “behind the scenes” moments, our rehearsals and our trial runs, with everyone else’s “highlight reels.” We are not usually privy to someone else’s dry runs, the failed efforts that eventually culminate in the masterpiece before us. We cannot forget our own struggles, the efforts we ourselves have made out of the limelight, and we all too often use these memories as the “compare to” when ourselves evaluate ourselves against others.
I’m reminded of a story that Grambingo tells often and well. I am one of 4. We were pretty successful youngsters, at least in the eyes of the community and at least by the standards then in place by which we (and by extension Gram and Grampbingo) were measured. My Mom would listen as fellow parents bemoaned this or that child-rearing difficulty, often followed by “oh Anne Lee, you wouldn’t know anything about this; your kids are all [whatever].” Grambingo would politely nod and smile, all the while thinking “oh boy…if you only knew!”
You see, Grambingo remembered all of the hard work, the heartaches when her kids disappointed and the battles fought so that they, the kids, might succeed. The other parents were comparing their “behind the scenes” with Grambingo’s “highlight reel”, but she knew better, she couldn’t help but remember her own “work in the gym” so to speak.
What’s the ultimate lesson here? We all compare, and we are all compared. It would be simply lovely if life were a non-zero sum game but alas, ’tis not. The lesson is as simple as making sure that you are always comparing things that are alike. Your rehearsals with someone else’s. Their highlight reel with yours.
When you are comparing apples to apples you must be sure that you are either looking at the fruit itself, or recalling the labor required to fill the basket.
I’ll see you next week…
Posted by bingo at September 16, 2012 6:20 AM
1) Jobs. Need more. ‘Nuff said.
2) Job. “The best job is the one you don’t need. That way you have permission to do what needs to be done. You can always do the right thing.” Sheri Lansing (?)
3) Life. “We’ve added years to life, not life to years.” George Carlin.
My bid is that those of us who are doing CrossFit add quality years to our lives. We can expect our senescence to be much freer of decrepitude than that of our predecessors, which will allow us to spend less time simply checking the required boxes of our days.
We are also adding a communal life to our years, at least those of us who are members of an Affiliate gym or who engage the online CrossFit community. I’ve had more substantive conversations about more varied topics with the people I’ve met in the CrossFit community than I have in my medical community. We engage one another. We join together in our WOD’s, join together in living.
We cram just as much life into every time domain as we do work in our WOD.
4) Anniversary I. We did “Haddie”, the memorial WOD for our beloved pet that left us this time last year. The WOD included Burpee PU and runs; Haddie had a stroke in her spine and for the last two years of her life would continually fall while running, only to pick herself up and keep going. Tough chick.
Pets, dogs in particular, teach us some valuable lessons. We learn responsibility because they depend on us for the essentials of life. Every day we see what unconditional love looks like when we are smothered in puppy love upon awakening. Heck, we get it when we return from a 90 second errand.
And we learn how to say goodbye. Our pets teach us that life is finite. Our love cannot change that, nor can theirs. Before we say goodbye to our people we typically have to say goodbye to one of our dogs. It’s a lousy, ouchy lesson; it’s a measure of their love for us that they typically handle it so much better than us. We are left with memories, and even here our dog teaches us about remembering our loved and lost.
Who, after all, really remembers anything truly bad about their dog?
5) Anniversary II. Mrs. bingo and I just celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary. My “Better 95%” and I have been together 30 years in all. Pretty cool. Actually, VERY cool. One of my CrossFit buddies noted that my ROI on that 5% I contribute is pretty huge!
Marriage is hard work, and given the atmosphere around here right now it’s probably not very cool for me to offer any advice, so I’ll just channel the grace offered to me on this occasion by another CrossFitter. Robin hoped that “[our] wedding day was the day that we loved each other least.” If CrossFit is seeking to become a better you tomorrow than the you of yesterday through the work you’ve done today, perhaps we can say this about marriage:
Seek to have more love tomorrow than you did yesterday by loving more than you ever thought possible today.
I’ll see you next week…
1) Savannah. Cool town ya got here.
2) Volume. Heard on the street last night:”Ya, but how many is that in ‘dog beers’?”
3) Bogart. “The problem with the world is that everyone is always a couple drinks behind.” Humphrey Bogart.
Bogart, an accomplished drinker, is also making a statement about a general atmosphere of tension and angst in his world. While I don’t necessarily condone his solution, now or then, his observation is spot on, now AND then.
Things are generally better than we are admitting out loud to others, generally better than we are admitting to ourselves. Really. To see this shouldn’t necessarily require beer goggles.
4) Ghosts. Savannah is populated by hundreds, maybe thousands, of ghosts. In truth if we met any last night I either didn’t notice or don’t remember. They, the ghosts that is, are all said to be sad or angry. If Savannah does indeed have ghosts it stands to reason that they ALL aren’t angry or sad, and that got me to thinking about ancestors.
Have you ever examined your heritage? You know, looked at what’s swimming in your gene pool, and where it’s been through history? There’s probably a ton in there, probably a ton of information that is worth knowing. History is awfully cool, a rich and vibrant panorama that can be viewed from any spot and examined in either direction. Your OWN history is like this. You should know your own story.
Some of your heritage may still be around, their panorama moving ever slower as they spool toward the end of their part of the story. Are they happy? Are they fulfilled? Have they imparted all they, and you, need? If they were to leave this life, if there be ghosts, would they be those quiet, happy types, or the sad angry ones that provide fodder for tour guides “crawling” the haunts of Bogart and his ilk? Time grows short for your living heritage, for them and for you.
If there be ghosts, might you be wise to learn their stories before they cross over?
I’ll see you next week…
Posted by bingo at September 2, 2012 6:50 AM
1) Substantiate. Among the definitions or meanings is “to make more substantial.” Could use more of this.
2) Wedding. Mrs. bingo and I are once again in San Diego (nice town ya got here, by the way), this time for a wedding. Not just any wedding, mind you, but a wedding that took place on the deck of the Midway. Whoa. I can’t begin to describe the chills, the raised hair on the back of the neck thrill when we realized that we were actually on the elevator that brought countless aircraft up from below, and that we were descending to meet the bride.
Seriously, thrill of a lifetime.
3) Promotion Class. Did you know that each year a defined number of Admirals (and presumably Generals in other services) is promoted as a class? Me either. These classes will gather on occasion, but they usually go their own ways throughout and after their careers. Kinda busy, you know, keeping the free world safe.
The groom is one of these Admirals, one of 12 in the Class of ’99. Including him, 8 of these men and women were in attendance (as well as an Admiral from ’00 and the General husband of an Admiral). Awestruck doesn’t begin to cover the collective reaction of the other guests.
What was striking, to me and to most, was the camaraderie on display in this particular group. They’d done this before, been assembled by choice many times before, and this time came from all over the globe to share in a comrade’s joy. In their Dress Blues they moved among us with a grace and a certain dignity that was palpable, while simultaneously cavorting like college classmates who snuck away to the beach. I searched for words to describe what I saw last night, and found one this morning.
I spent the evening in the company of 8 (+2) substantial men and women who provided lessons in honor, loyalty, and gravitas simply by being together in the room.
4) Home. Where do you live? Morgan Freeman: “Everyone lives somewhere.” Do they? Do you?
Where you live is more than where you are domiciled at the present moment. The distinction between “house” and “home” is real, is substantial. Home requires effort; house requires a checkbook. A house demands upkeep of the walls, the various and sundry systems and furnishings, but a home demands an on-going commitment to what is contained within those walls.
Home also seems to contain a notion of place. A “where are you from” kind of statement or sense. You’ve committed to a certain zip code, learned the rules of the road so well that you move through that larger space in a continual comfort zone. It might be described as simply as knowing where to find eggs for emergency muffins on a rainy Sunday morning, this notion of “home in place”.
I wonder, and I readily confess that I worry about my friends who have multiple “homes”. Does home travel with them from place to place, simply injected into the particular space they occupy at any given moment? Maybe. I know that I am always “home enough” whenever I happen to be accompanied by Mrs. bingo, but still, I’ve needed a map every day here in SoCal.
“Everyone lives somewhere.” Indeed.
I’ll see you next week…
Posted by bingo at August 26, 2012 8:52 AM
Sunday musings (from the Games)…
1) Hall Pass. Yup. Got mine. The whole weekend to hang at the CrossFit Games. With “The Heir” and Lil’bingo. Yup.
2) Cyber-gym. Once upon a time in CrossFit land most of the people who did CrossFit congregated here, on the Main Page of CrossFit.com. This cyber-gym has since expanded, kinda like an Affiliate that got so big it needed a bigger space, and now it includes stuff like FB and Twitter. Many of us have forged a very cool kind of friendship or kinship through the shared suffering of CrossFit in this cyber-gym.
It’s especially cool to actually meet these folks in real life. For real…like shake hands and hug kinda real. At the CF Kids Teen Challenge I met the near-OG who once upon a time went by “Cougar” around here along with a half dozen other women who’ve met the same way. Very cool pic floating around FB as proof.
Full frontal hugs had by all.
3) Vetted. Bumped into Kelly Starret. You know, budding author about to be published (do look for his book, out in early 2013). We got to chatting about our community and the word he used to describe it was “vetted”.
“I know everything about you once I know you are a CrossFitter. I know who you are. I know who you hang out with. I know the kinds of choices you make, good choices. I already know we will be friends. You’ve been vetted, simply by telling me you are a CrossFitter.”
I really like that word and all it stands for in this context. There is an assumption of good will extended from all CrossFitters to all CrossFitters. We are not surprised in the least when we meet yet another really nice person with a great story. Astonished yes, but no longer surprised. Like today when an honest-to-goodness real-life American hero spent 20 minutes talking with my boys after just having met them, sharing words of encouragement and inspiration (you and your fiance know who you are–thank you).
Indeed, I like that word and how Kelly used it so much I think I’ll buy him a dinner at a place called “Lola”!
4) Community. I’ve been reading Allison Belger’s book “The Power of Community” in which she dissects the CrossFit Community from the perspective of both a CrossFitter and a psychologist. I’m reading and re-reading parts so I’m not going through it all that quickly–I’m enjoying savoring the gems and jewels I’ve been finding there, and I’m sure that I will share more than several of those once I’ve mined it fully.
Every anecdote so far elicits a knowing nod. I struggled a bit with the question of “why”but I think I’ve figured it out. You know, as in why does CrossFit create such a strong community? Again and again, on a micro (Affiliate gym) and macro (the CrossFit Games gathering) level.
The science is cool: it turns out that we as creatures are probably wired for community, wired to become a part of a community. What it takes for this pre-wired state to become operational is some trigger or stimulus. The most exciting applied neuroscience now extent is in the realm of my day job where the brain part of the vision system can actually be made to change, to get better, if the stimulus that causes maximal activity in a neural pathway is repeatedly applied.
Ah… now we’re getting somewhere. Our stimulus is the willful acceptance of discomfort, and more so the shared experience of that discomfort in an effort to better ourselves. There is obviously something about this particular stimulus that fits right into that pre-wiring for the creation of a community. Dr. Belger’s book not only gave me an expanded vocabulary to describe our community, what our CrossFit community looks like, but it also helped me answer the the question of “why” it happens.
Whether in the cyber-gym or a Box, the stimulus for community lies in the willingness to pay the price to move beyond your perception of what is possible; once having done so one seeks others willing to do the same.
Having found them one always seems to be at home.
I’ll see you next week…
Posted by bingo at July 14, 2012 10:30 PM
1) Wimbledon. Breakfast at Wimbledon. Why thank you, yes, I think I will.
2) ESPY. Kyle Maynard is up for an ESPY. Go find a place to vote for him.
3) Life? Billy Ray (not his real name, of course) turned off his implantable defibrillator (ICD) yesterday. Billy Ray is 44.
In my day job I was asked to evaluate him for a problem in my specialty. I was told he was about to enter hospice care and assumed that he was much, much older and simply out of options. I admit that I was somewhat put out by the request, it being Saturday and the problem already well-controlled. Frankly, I thought it was a waste of my time, Billy Ray’s time, and whoever might read my report’s time, not to mention the unnecessary costs. I had a very pleasant visit with Billy Ray, reassured him that the problem for which I was called was resolving nicely, and left the room to write my report.
44 years old though. What was his fatal illness? What was sending him off to Hospice care? I bumped into his medical doc and couldn’t resist asking. Turns out that Billy Ray has a diseased heart that is on the brink of failing; without the ICD his heart will eventually beat without a rhythm and he will die. A classic indication for a heart transplant–why was Billy Ray not on a transplant list? Why, for Heaven’s sake, did he turn off his ICD?
There is a difference between being alive and having a life. It’s not the same to say that one is alive and that one is living. It turns out that Billy Ray suffered an injury at age 20 and has lived 24 years in unremitting, untreatable pain. Cut off before he even began he never married, has no children. Each day was so filled with the primal effort to stop the pain he had little left over for friendship.
Alive without a life. Alive without living. Billy Ray cried “Uncle”.
I have been haunted by this since I walked out of the hospital. How do you make this decision? Where do you turn? Billy Ray has made clear he has no one. Does a person in this situation become MORE religious or LESS? Rage against an unjust G0d or find comfort in the hope of an afterlife? Charles DeGaulle had a child with Down’s Syndrome. On her death at age 20 he said “now she is just like everyone else.” Is this what Billy Ray is thinking? That in death he will finally be the same as everyone else?
And what does this say about each of us in our lives? What does it say about the problems that we face, the things that might make us rage against some personal injustice? How might we see our various infirmities when cast in the shadow of a man who has lived more than half his life in constant pain, a man alone? The answer, of course, is obvious, eh?
The more subtle message is about people, having people. Having family, friends, people for whom one might choose to live. It’s very easy to understand the heroic efforts others make to survive in spite of the odds, despite the pain. Somewhere deep inside the will to live exists in the drive to live for others. The sadness I felt leaving the hospital and what haunts me is not so much Billy Ray’s decision but my complete and utter understanding of his decision.
Billy Ray gave lie to the heretofore truism that “no man is an island”.
Go out and build your bridges. Build the connections to others that will build your will to live. Live so that you will be alive for your others. Be alive so that your life will be more than something which hinges on nothing more than the switch that can be turned off. Live with and for others so that you, too, can understand not only Billy Ray but also those unnamed people who fight for every minute of a life.
Be more than alive. Live.
I’ll see you next week…
Posted by bingo at July 8, 2012 7:17 AM
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