It’s been said too many times that social media is changing our relationships and degrading our ability to genuinely connect with others, but all those “superficial” interactions take on a unique significance when social media meets death. In a totally bizarre way, social media enables us to be friends with dead people.
I’ve learned a lot this semester while teaching my first class in Medical and Healthcare Ethics. We’ve covered a range of topics that I hope to eventually make videos and write posts about, but one insight in particular has repeatedly been made apparent to me in my personal life: It’s inappropriate to respond to everything in the same way. Doing so not only increases your likelihood of responding to someone or some situation in the wrong way. It may also mean that there are some deeper things going on that are worth thinking about. For your own sake as well as everyone else’s. Continue reading →
You know that great feeling when you are able to vent and finally get things off of your chest? Well I wrote a number of emails this week that were intended to be “strictly business,” but before I knew it that whole personal-professional line was blurred again and I ended up telling a few of my higher-ups what I really thought of them. Continue reading →
Figuring out how to cope with a terminal illness and deal with death has been the most present theme for me over the past week. My students and I spent a couple of days discussing these topics in our Medical and Healthcare Ethics class. After a colleague mentioned in passing that his health was “not that great,” we spoke for nearly two hours over coffee about finding purpose in doing graduate work when you are faced with an unexpected and drastically shortened timeline. And, although this is a frequent occurrence, one of my closest friends and I talked even more than usual about what it means to live after a loved one has died. All of these conversations were punctuated by seemingly serendipitous finds of related videos and songs over a number of days. It was one of those times when one’s attention is primed to pick up on such things more frequently and with greater ease. It seemed natural, then, to assume that I would write my reflections this week on such a weighty, important, and pressing question: How do we live when we really know that we are going to die?
But I’m not going to. At least not right now.
Maybe it was because I really do want to write about this question and these experiences, and perhaps also because I appreciate the gravity that can surround their consideration, that I found myself feeling quite adverse to the idea of doing so. From my own experience, I know that it is inappropriate (if not downright offensive) to talk to people about what they might be going through and how they should handle their feelings. In those situations, the most important thing one can do is just be present, sit with the experience, and listen. So I had a weird little moment when I thought, “Ugh. I don’t want to come off as that person.” And I totally blame Twitter and Facebook for my hesitation to write. Continue reading →
Like small, delicate, little bubble worlds unto ourselves we emerge, take shape, grow, travel, and move. And then we meet others, at a particular moment for (what we may not always realize is) an indeterminate amount of time. Sometimes we touch. We cling. We gather and crowd. Then other times we separate. Eventually, at some point, one or both or all move away, go away, disappear. There are others, of course. Always others. But there was also that one. Those few. Those others before. And for that time, while we were, we were close. Extraordinarily close. Continue reading →
It’s bad advice to say, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
Well, perhaps it’s not terrible advice, but I think we can do better by adopting the following phrase as a guide for our actions: Treat others the way they want to be treated. It’s called the Platinum Rule. Continue reading →
Unrequited love is a common theme of tortured souls, those who wish for nothing more than to be loved back by their beloved. In many stories, this type of love is a kind of tragedy for we often assume that love is (and perhaps should be) realized only in particular ways. But I’ve recently been thinking differently, and I’ve found something quite poignant about a certain kind of love that is not only unreciprocated but also unknown to those who are loved.
In the past eight months I developed a new kind of love for two boys who are not my own. They live a number of hours away from me. I never met them and I likely never will. One is ten years old. The other is eight. I was dating their father. Continue reading →
On the feels-longer-than-nine-hour drive back to Pennsylvania from Chicago, Bryn asked, “So what are you going to name the album for all of these pictures?” I didn’t know, and after a moment or two of pondering album titles, I stopped thinking about it. “They usually just come to me on whim when I’m uploading the pictures. I’ll wait and see, I guess.”
As usual, this title presented itself to me rather spontaneously. But I didn’t feel very content with it at first. I liked the title well enough but it struck me as long, corny, and vague. When I thought about it some more, though, I realized that it was actually sort of complex for a title, and that was what mattered most about it. “When Time and Space Don’t Matter, Meet me at The Bean” captures a lot about the trip for me–comments, memories, future possibilities, and current feelings. That’s what makes it complex, and because of this, I really like it now. Continue reading →
today has been a strange day. i woke up with anticipatory dreams, verging on psychic predictions–that a phone charger would be left behind on a loved one’s travel, that a conversation with a long-term supporter would address the lessening need for our time together because life and things just continue to get better and better. and in the waiting room, a journal of medicine was resting in the chair next to me, different from the usual copies of AARP. I glanced at the table of contents–new patient-oriented methods, placebo treatments of asthma, and something about leukemia.
Philosophical possibilities aside (because I know that there are many passages I could bring in here), I’ve been wanting to mention one thing that has really been on my mind over the past couple of weeks.
There’s a really good chance that you are part of it. Seriously.
Because what I’ve been paying attention to are the many instances, minutes, and days in which thoughts of other people are present to me. Most likely, all of this occurs unbeknownst to those who cross my mind. I imagine that many, many people would be surprised to know how often I actually think of them. Once I started paying attention to it, it even surprised me. Continue reading →