Examinations

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”  Lots of people know and some even are known to quote this statement attributed to Socrates by Plato.   Some religions encourage confession, which requires a kind of examination — another quotation one hears often is  ”Confession is good for the soul” (which is cites as coming from a Scottish proverb), while others agree with Peter De Vries: Confession is good for the soul only in the sense that a tweed coat is good for dandruff — it is a palliative rather than a remedy. Still others, I think one example is the LDS church, encourage diary keeping, which would seem to include examination of one’s life. But lately FD has been getting a lot of examinations by various doctors, and it leads FD to wonder exactly how much good examining one’s life really does.  How deeply should one go?  Is it enough to give a cursory thought before acting?  To take a moment before sleep to review the day? Isn’t moving forward and living in the present more important and more useful than examining and ruminating over the past? It seems to FD that too often, observing one’s life can get in the way of living one’s life.

Interesting to hear about your talk with the shrink, and I’m glad she’s helping you tweak the drugs and agrees with me about listening to your own inner clock. I agree with you that confronting your mom isn’t going to be any help; I think it is sometimes hard for people to understand that both her age in general and her cognitive difficulties are both going to make it next to impossible for her to change, especially when it’s not her idea.  I do believe that people mostly just become more who they are as they age, even though I’ve seen lots of growth in people before they are very old (e.g. neither Dan nor I are like what we were in our 20s, but I don’t expect either of us to have any equal changes in the next 20 years.)  So, it does seem that the person who has to change is you, to find a way that it doesn’t upset you as much. I’m sure it is harder because it is your mother, I imagine if you were caring for Greg’s mother you wouldn’t be feeling it so hard, you would be able to see it as a continuing life problem, but it wouldn’t be as emotional a problem.  Still, I can really relate to what you said about the way it seems to be taking over your life, that’s how I felt when it seemed that all of our decisions were based on Dan’s being an only child of elderly parents, decisions about how we spent our vacations, what jobs we applied for, everything revolved around what he felt were his responsibilities where they were concerned.  And I did need talk therapy for that, to help me see that I did still have a lot of space/time that I controlled.  It’s hard though, since most of the time the culture just doesn’t show how hard it is to be doing elder care, it’s always shown as tolerable — all those ads for alzheimer drugs make life with the elderly seem so peaceful and no problem at all.
You know, one mental trick I did when we were with his parents was to keep reminding myself that I knew when we were leaving, that this wasn’t the rest of my life and I knew that I’d be home at X time.  I also found it absolutely helpful to do things, knitting all the time when I had to just sit, and also I cooked as much as I could, or suggested activities like clearing up mail or sorting a drawer, or anything, card games, a tv show, something to pass the time in some sort of way that gave me some distraction from the just “being there” ness of it.  Does you mom like the dogs? Maybe you should bring a dog when you go, get her to take a short walk?
Ha, I need to resign up for KIrkus, they stopped sending me stuff, at least I haven’t seen anything, and I even check my spam filter.  I have seen the reviews for the new book, and it was a rave in the Times, too — they liked the Policeman book too, and I have considered it but those alternate history books aren’t really a genre I’m fond of.  In a way, I think of him as another of those boy novelists, in the Doctorow/Roth field (I bet John R. loves him).  If it isn’t a mystery, I generally prefer women writers these days.
More tomorrow,
JoAnn Confession is good for the soul only in the sense that a tweed coat is good for dandruff — it is a palliative rather than a remedy. Confession is good for the soul only in the sense that a tweed coat is good for dandruff — it is a palliative rather than a remedy.

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