I love to read, but when a colleague recommended Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal, it took several months before I finally picked it up. The topic of end-of-life care in America is important to me, having lost a parent and concerned about how best to care for the aging relatives who remain. But faced with a free Sunday afternoon. . . ugh.
Gawande has a gift for being able to break down complex subjects into reasonable – even inspirational – pieces. His perspective is both that of a surgeon caring for patients and of a son caring for a loved one.
Gawande recognizes that patients are people, with “priorities beyond merely being safe and living longer.” He also emphasizes that while the sick may not have complete control, they do have choices. These choices take courage: “To confront the reality of mortality. . . to seek out the truth of what is to be feared and what is to be hoped. . . to act on the truth we find. . . to decide whether one’s fears or one’s hopes are what should matter most.”
The author identifies a “remembering” part of one’s self, who takes all of your experiences and recognizes “not only the peaks of joy and valleys of misery but also how the story works out as a whole.” Concluding that in one’s life story, “endings matter” and “the chance to shape one’s story is essential to sustaining meaning in life.”
Calling to the author and storyteller in us all.
This holiday season, the majority of my projects have been created for small, appreciative audiences of family and friends: a book for my husband of before and after photos of our new home, and a family recipe/photo book for my extended family.
I recently took a Myers-Briggs workshop, which taught me to distinguish:
- Where I find my source of energy
- How I gather information
- How I make decisions
- How I present myself to the outside world
I learned that my personality type tends to seek meaning in their work; to value authenticity, commitment and integrity; to be reflective and empathetic; to be innovative and solve complex problems, and to help, motivate, encourage and serve others.
Fittingly, all preferences I have for photography as well.
Happy New Year,