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Book: _Being Mortal_

I finished reading Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande last night. I'd been hearing about it on several fronts, including from our former Farmer House neighbor, who is a wonderful thinker and atheist coping with her own imminent mortality from cancer. My mom had also requested that we kids read the book because she is someone who wants to have that series of tough conversations about how to go through the process of dying.

I can understand why: we have the stories of my great-grandma D and my grandpa W to reflect on, in addition to the stories of my Aunt Penny, and Grandma and Grandpa C. In addition, there's the looming spectre of my dad's cancer, where even if he has a 10-year horizon, we should still all think about how to spend that time well. I am grateful for parents who seek out these conversations.

Anyway, the book shares a whole series of insights about how we treat old age and the act of dying, and offers up a series of ideas and examples for things that seem to help make those experiences as good as they can possibly be. Given that we are all mortal, everyone should spend at least some time thinking about how to cope with the end stages of life.

But there was one thing I deeply appreciated while finishing the book: in the Acknowledgements section, the author not only talks about all of the people who helped with different aspects of the writing, but where he also slips in a comment about how he has NEVER found writing to be an easy process. This is especially comforting coming at the end of a well-written book.

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I took a break from writing, while working my way through this last cricket circadian experiment. It's impossible for me to write while conducting that kind of research, where I am constantly trying to stay mentally ready to run experiments at all hours of the day and night. But now I need to return to writing on two fronts: job applications and manuscripts. I think the author's comments are a comforting reminder to be compassionate towards myself while I work on these projects. I'm feeling a whole host of emotions about writing right now, but the ones that stand out are guilt over leaving things to sit for so long, severe anxiety over whether I will manage to get things done and over the sense of vulnerability that accompanies job applications, and anxiety over how to carve out time and quiet space to write productively, while living in a loud, chaotic house and working in a loud, chaotic lab. I also miss my grad school writing buddies. But I have a feeling that I can't just wait for more writing buddies to show up. I need to buckle down and get to work no matter what.

This entry was originally posted at http://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1170755.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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