I saw Atul Gawande speak tonight about his new book "Being Mortal". His main point seemed to me to be that we live at a higher, more appreciative level when we are aware of our mortality. After 9-11, there was a huge jump in consciousness, in awareness of love, intimacy, and connection, and then, as people settled back into their "normal" lives, they became more interested in outside standards of "success" rather than time with family and friends.
How do we keep that awareness of mortality which leads to what he calls wisdom and appreciation of being rather than doing?
We continually ask ourselves what it means to us personally to experience quality in our lives. What do we want, and how do we honor our wants as they change?
When it comes to health care, his subject, since he is a surgeon, we are very clear in asking ourselves what we want, especially when it comes to complex questions about quality of life and extending our lives. He suggests we find a doctor who asks us questions and listens to our answers. He came to realize that he was doing 90% of the talking when he saw patients. Now, it is 50/50. He admits that the current necessity of doctors inputting information into computers affects the quality of the medical experience. He suggests a new way to record information and allow quality interactive time with patients would be welcomed by doctors. He said doctors are burning out because of this issue of inputting data. They did not choose to become doctors so they could sit there and type, and yet, patients like having access to their medical information, and that access does allow the possibility of more informed decisions.
He was asked about Ebola. This is not a threat. It is not easily spread and if medical workers follow cleanliness steps, there is no danger.
He was also asked how he does all he does. He said he does not lead a balanced life. His work is what matters to him. He and his wife went to Italy on vacation. He worked on his book during the day and she went to museums. They came together at night over dinner.
In conclusion, is for each of us to find what nourishes us and ask ourselves each hour, each day, how we want to spend our time. What matters to us now, and now and now? Awareness that there is an end to life augments the moments we have.
In celebration of my birthday, I am going to soon be out of internet connection. I'm returning to an earlier time governed by sun, moon, stars, and ocean tides.