Carl D’Agostino is a retired high school history teacher. His interests include woodcarving and blogging. Cartoon blog at carldagostino.wordpress.com. Cartoons published in book, “I know I Made You Smile, Volume I.”
Marvin lived hard for years, used up his bank, his talents used up like putting a flame to his wick. He was wired to live in the moment. Living that way, when he had gifts galore freely given, living was different than when those gifts were used, diminished, and broken. Marvin was smart enough to rationalize his way into a chronic suicidality thereafter.
What is the point of living, after all? Marvin asked this question, answered it, and asked it again, to the point that it separated itself from Time and place. It is a question that is infinite anyhow.
Sometimes Marvin, with this infinite question, this question that occupies the time of God, kings, and beggars, Marvin would sit in my office with this infinite question in his nicotine-stained and inked fingers, and he would in this bring together the infinite with the finite. I remembered that the whole point, the meaning of the infinite and finite, is increased in value by the other. Marvin, living in the moment, even now years after his coin was thus reduced, was living in the infinite.
Why do I have to keep living? I just need someone to tell me it’s going to be ok if I die.
Marvin, If you are looking for a doctor to help you die, you need to go somewhere else. I will always choose life.
(It seemed like that “FYI” was in order.)
“We” made a plan …that Marvin wasn’t entirely in agreement with. I told him he could not come back to my clinic if he wasn’t engaged in that plan.
Marvin, we are just going to do what the data tells us will work. We don’t have to feel it or even believe it. We have the data at least.
Every time I have ever seen Marvin, I took a hard look, memorized him, knowing this may be the last time. Setting boundaries with him was freaky. It felt like trying to hold broken glass. Would Marvin be back? If not, I knew I’d be hurt.
The patient-doctor relationship is unique to each patient. It is unique to each doctor. For me, in my patient-doctor relationships, if it wasn’t for the hard grip I keep on the seat of my chair, I’d have too many of my patients in a big, but likely awkward, (and my Academy tells me, “Inappropriate”) hug.
This flashed through my mind in fair warning again. I compromised, saying instead,
You matter to me, Marvin.
I think Marvin’s lip actually curled and his canines grew. And I quote,
How can you say that? I just don’t get it.
This was a moment of road’s diverging, 31 Flavors, coins in your hand in front of a mother-loaded vending machine. I could see philosophers, all over the now and then of the ages, slobbering like they were at a nudie bar.
Once, when I called 911 on behalf of a patient who needed to go into the hospital for safety, the police person looked like that, bouncey even, on her toes. I had to check her feet to see if she was actually standing on a pedestal, she sermonized my poor patient so thoroughly. I think she was even eating a candy bar as she left my office, satisfied, (without my patient, by the way. Apparently she thought her tonic words had medicinal powers.)
Marvin was fishing me. There were so many ways to lose with that question. He was hoping I’d flop around with straining gills sucking air for hours while he tugged on the hook.
I’ve done that often enough, and will do it many more times. We can count on mistakes. What took me by surprise was, this time I did not.
Well, I’d guess it has something to do with me and something to do with you.
Yup. It surprised me. The surprise brought a wave of gratitude. “Thank you God.”
And if you aren’t as surprised or grateful by that liner, I can only explain that it was right at the time. Marvin lost his handlebar lip curl. I lost my grip on the chair. Marvin’s still alive, (I know everyone’s worried about the “for now” part of that.) And our universe cares, finitely and infinitely.
To the Marvin’s of the world, the wasted, the used, and the squandered, work your programs.
To the lonely and distorted, to the ones who have tried to die, to you who don’t know why you keep living, follow what the data offers by way of direction.
To you who may not get the same freely given gifts in this life that are now gone, you have good things coming.
We choose to live with you, than without. We choose you again. We choose, every time, what Love will bring. Keep on.
Questions: Have you ever asked yourself and/or others, “Why do I keep living?” What has your answer been? What is your answer now? For yourself. What would you tell your own Me?
Self-care tip: …I think I waxed on and off enough already with that – smile.