A lady who wished only to be known as Anne made headline news in the British press recently.Whilst not in the best of health, aged eighty nine, Anne announced she was tired of life and shocked many by applying to the Dignitas clinic for help in the assisted suicide scheme they offer in Switzerland. (Not legal in the United Kingdom.) She suggested the pace of modern living in a fast, computerised world was too much for her. Many were shocked that she did so in spite of the fact that she was not terminally ill. The assumption being that Dignitas would help only the terminally ill. If I have got it right, they in fact require you to be 'of sound mind' and not solely terminally ill before they would consider someone for assisted suicide. Anne followed all the necessary procedures and in fact died, with Dignitas's help on the 27th March.
A sad story indeed. Death is the only inevitability in life; the great equaliser if you like. A fact I find perversely satisfying. Something even the obscenely rich cannot avoid, though they no doubt would if they could! But back to the dilemma facing many whose end beckons; whose health is not good; whose existence is seemingly pointless and less than pain free. At what point in life could it be right to think in terms of 'enough is enough'.
I have no wish to upset those who believe life is not ours to take. Plus I realise ones 'religious beliefs' make any discussion about mortality a minefield of a subject! My interest in such matters is far less intense; I'm not a theologian; neither have I Einstein's intellect, or have you already guessed! Rather my angle is, ' What do you enjoy most about living; and what sort of things might make you feel like calling it a day! You could almost have two columns, good and bad, for and against. Presumably when the negative overtakes the positive, that's the time to think about it.
Family, friends, gardens, nature; sunny days in Skegness; in fact sunny days anywhere. Fish and chips and pork scratchings; the innocence of little children and the sheer wisdom of clever old men. The intimacy afforded by forty four years of marriage. Young love once, old love now, but love all the same. There are so, so many things to live for.
I am reminded of a poem by Rupert Brooke that I used periodically in my teaching career all those years ago. (Taken from 'The Great Lover')
These I have loved:
White plates and cups, clean-gleaming,
Ringed with blue lines; and feathery, fairy dust;
Wet roofs, beneath the lamp-light; the strong crust
Of friendly bread; and many-tasting food;
Rainbows; and the blue bitter smoke of wood;
And radiant raindrops couching in cool flowers;
And flowers themselves, that sway through sunny hours,
Dreaming of moths that drink them under the moon;
Then, the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon
Smooth away trouble; and the rough male kiss
Of blankets; grainy wood; live hair that is
Shining and free; blue-massing clouds; the keen
Unpassioned beauty of a great machine;
The benison of hot water; furs to
The good smell of old clothes; and other such-
The comfortable smell of friendly fingers,
Hair's fragrance, and the musty reek that lingers
About dead leaves and last year's ferns....
And thousand others throng to me! Royal flames;
Sweet water's dimpling laugh from tap or spring;
Holes in the ground; and voices that do sing:
Voices in laughter, too; and body's pain,
Soon turned to peace; and the deep-panting train;
Firm sands; the little dulling edge of foam
That browns and dwindles as the wave goes home;
And washen stones, gay for an hour; the cold
Graveness of iron; moist black earthen mold;
Sleep; and high places; footprints in the dew;
And oaks; and brown horse-chestnuts, glossy-new;
And new-peeled sticks; and shining pools on grass; -
All these have been my loves. And these shall pass,
Whatever passes not, in the great hour...........
One other thought. I am reminded whilst writing this post of a song recorded by many artists over the years. This particular version is by Jane Birkin. I could have titled this post 'Food for Thought'. How strange is the human mind and mine is no exception!