Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What Is Life?

I know, I know: trite, tired subject. I'm writing about it after a conversation with my good friend, who just told me a friend of his' husband died 2 weeks ago. Every day she expresses her grief and longing in a brief statement on her homepage. Some days, she makes 2 statements.

I can't begin to know how she must feel. She is a young woman, still in her twenties. Her entire life looms ahead, and she must endure it without her partner, her lover, her best friend. Her 5-year old daughter serves to remind her that her child most likely will grow up fatherless.

Because it is not easy in Chinese culture to find a man who will accept a woman who already has a child. And, although widowhood is preferable to divorce, still such women are heavily stigmatized. This woman is doing her best to pull herself together after her loss, and soon she will have the face the fact that she might not ever have another chance at love. How is that fair?

This unknown woman who now lives in my heart did not have to suffer through a long illness with her husband. That was a mercy. However, being as he died of illness rather than a work or car accident, there is no compensation or other monetary recourse headed her way. For the foreseeable future, she will be the family's sole breadwinner, caring for aging parents and her daughter. I'll bet she hasn't even thought that far out yet.

In conclusion, Sam said: “Her case gave me a lot to think about. I think that, of all facets of life, health is the most important.”

In turn, he made me think: what is the most important facet of life? I have never really thought of that before. Have you? How can one ponder the meaning of life while steeped in the here and now?

The here and now: this week has been so busy for me! I've been coaching a team for debate competition. What a task! The poor team knows very little about the proposed motions and even less about how British Parliamentary debate works. And we only  have about 10 days to prepare.

Because these students still have other classes to attend, and part-time jobs and other obligations I told them I would help them with their research into the topics. One of them hit close to home for me, and is relevant to Sam's assertion about the most important facet of life.

This House Would Legalize Euthanasia.

My views on euthanasia are neither here nor there, but my research shows one of the most important aspects in favor of dignified termination of life (euthanasia) is 'quality of life'.

There's an aspect that few people weigh in on when thinking: What is life?

Deep, rich relationships. Not perpetual happiness maybe, but enough to make hard times bearable. A rewarding career rather than a drudge job. A variety of experiences. Money, materials and accomplishments don't figure in when thinking of life in terms of quality. 

I agree with Sam: health is important. But for me, the overall, most important facet of life is quality.

What about you?

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