This is the story of Pam and John; she in her early 50’s and John is 62. Pam is a college professor. John taught at a local community college until diagnosed with Parkinson’s in March 2008, then Lewy Body Dementia in April.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

finding meaning

When I'm low I feel discouraged that I'm not getting anywhere in getting to acceptance of my situation. I don't want to just endure, I want to find meaning in it. I find when I am stuck talking to someone different can sometimes help me think in new directions, so I went to talk to the minister of my church today. Something clicked me into trying to make a list of the different ways I could deal with how my life is changing. One of my philosophies of life is that there are always more than two alternatives.

  • I could be miserable and just endure and take antidepressants (I really don't want to do it that way)
  • I could feel a calling to this new life, to the challenges I face (that is what I want but so far it isn't happening)
  • I could be patient and wait for the meaning to gradually develop after I have been doing it for a while (people seem to think that is the most likely, but I'm not patient with it, it feels like just being miserable)
  • I could see this as a new stage in life where instead of measuring myself by concrete accomplishments I need to be aware of the more subtle ways in which I make some contribution, some difference in the world.

I see potential in that last one because I've been struggling not to fall into feeling that somehow I'm being punished or taught a lesson by losing so many of my hopes for the future at once (John's illness and the almost-definite dismantling of the program I've spent the last five years building at work).

I'm pretty good at looking for opportunties when things don't go the way I expect; this would be a similar mindset of seeing the more subtle good that comes from what I'm doing. My program may end but the professors who taught in it will take those ideas into other courses. John and I can't do as much as I had hoped but what we do is still a role model to our children.

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