A few months ago I listened to the audio version of the book "Tuesdays with Morrie" written by Mitch Albom.
By accident I began to search the internet afterwards and found out, that this is a real true story - see details here:
- Morrie Schwartz
- Mitch Albom: Making Each Moment Matter
- Mitch Albom: '07 Speech - 35 min. clip
- Morrie Schwartz with Ted Koppel
What they have in common is: They did not give up and made the best out of situations that really suck.
Why all that now? It's because of my father in law. He suffers from Pick's disease. The big difference in his case is: It's his intellectual abilities that get reduced, disconnected and are switching off. He cannot teach me as Morrie taught Mitch. His illness hasn't been discovered in it's beginning, which is typical for this disease. Currently the situation is already very bad. Verbal communication is not really possible any more. I have to listen more carefully, don't listen to words, but listen to emotions and to non-verbal communication (such as eye-contact). His luck is, that he had a life before the illness (he arrived at 80 some days ago). But anyway, thinking of such a situation - loosing control of your own mind and even your essential core functions (writing, speaking or even swallowing reflex for example) is horrible. Even your core vital functions are controlled by your brain. Without your brain working properly you can hardly make the best out of your situation. As long as your heart and your brain is working, be happy!
Although the very reduced life quality in his current status of the illness, I could still see some moments where he seems to enjoy life. Where intellect is fading away, there is still emotion and sensation. I have accepted the situation and instead of joking with him (we were joking a lot when he was still in full health a few years ago) I held his hand or let him pull my nose (for whatever reason he liked that).
In the 35-minute-video above of Mitch Albom, he says that what for you is the most important in your last hours of life should also be the most important right now. But isn't there something wrong with this thought? I am pretty sure, if I would know that I will die tomorrow, I would not go to work any more and stay with my family concentrating on them. However, staying with my family, playing with the children all the day, would mean - after a few months - that: Several bills are not paid any more, things will break and not being repaired, we would loose social contact to other people. So acting as it would be your last day is - oh wonder - not a good long-term plan! You need to find a healthy balance!
If you would know the future you could take better suitable decisions now. Without the information you need to consider several possible futures!
No again, rethink the sentence: "What for you is the most important in your last hours of life should be the most important right now." It does not imply that you should ONLY do what is important in your last hours of life. The sentence talks about priorities! FIRST do the important things.
I give you an example from right now: I was writing this article while the children were playing. A few minutes ago my 4-year old son came in and talked to me. He explained to me how he solved the quarrel with his older brother. That was the trigger to immediately switch attention, hug him, tell him how well he did. After 30 seconds of this positive feedback he already had enough and wanted to continue playing alone. Time to continue writing.
However, to find a healthy balance, it helps a lot being aware of the core needs of human being. And this is, what I can still learn from my father in law.
Related posts: Living your opportunities, Simple Life, How to be happy, Between GTD and GHE, Primary motivator.