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Allan's Philosophy Podcast

Monday, January 24, 2011

Philosophy on Facebook # 50 – Giving Up and Acceptance

Hey guys. I thought I’d try and get into the grind of churning these philosophy posts out again and not just the Phun-size kind but one similar to when I first started writing these posts over a year ago on January 4th, 2010. Within that year a lot has gone on through my life and while it has provided me with amazing opportunities, it has also unfortunately had moments of tragedy and heartbreak. I think that these tragedies are in a way a blessing in disguise however, because without them I wouldn’t have realized how important it is to cherish what you have before you regret not appreciating them when they’re gone. It also provides a base comparison on how much joy and happiness the rest of my life has been filled with. Tragedy also plays a vital role in teaching us valuable lessons and here is some philosophy that it has taught me.

I visited my grandparents today and when talking to the nurse of my grandparent’s retirement center, she told me that over all her years of working in the medical field, she had to rethink her beliefs on the difference between giving up and acceptance. As we go on through life and get older, the adults that we've grown up with who helped us develop and improve our collective beings get older too and it is unfortunately the way of nature that we will all inevitably die. As I was being tutored for the Chem SAT’s, I had a pretty interesting conversation with my tutor on the subject of entropy and how the universe always leans toward disorder. The universe naturally wants all solids to be brought to a state of a gas which means that our bodies are by their very nature meant to die. When tragedy and death come, it is amazing to think about the philosophical concepts behind it, not necessarily just for you personally, but about what must be going through the minds of those who are going through the last stages of their lives. As young children we don’t have any real idea of what the future holds. As teenagers we are more likely to look forward to the great opportunities our lives may have in store for us so much to the point that we probably ignore or don’t have an appropriate perspective on death that the older generation is starting to formulate as they near the end of their lives.

When talking to those who are on the verge of death, it is interesting to see their opinions on life and whether they are optimistic about their futures and remaining time left on earth or have they given up their ambitions or motivations to live life because they know there is nothing that can be done to improve their current state of life and prevent their death. I personally believe there is always something that can be done and you should never give up on a positive outlook to life or else there is nothing to live for. Even if you don't have the physical means to live much longer, if you give up what's the point in trying to hold on to what's left at all. I feel like if you try to make the best of your current health conditions, it makes the remainder of what you've got be memorable. It is also important to realize that what happens to your life doesn’t just affect you yourself, but everyone who is involved in your existence as well. In fact, if you give up on life then you are a selfish person because you aren’t thinking about how your attitude will play a role in the lives of those who care about you, who still have hope looking towards the future. Even if you may not be there with them to see a brighter future, it doesn’t mean you should stop trying to provide them with one. In the case of a parent, it is imperative that you never give up, especially in the presence of your children. Isn’t it the ultimate goal of parents to provide their children with a better life than they ever had? If you give up, you no longer are following through with the basic fundamental commitment a parent owes to their child.

Another aspect that is important to talk about when referring to the attitude on life that people can have are the priorities that go along with that attitude. I believe that whenever you realize your life has the realistic potential of ending soon; you have an almost immediate subconscious shift in your priorities. I think it is an automatic response to death that your priorities change. In the eyes of those who will pass away soon, the worries and everyday tasks that we normal healthy humans encounter everyday may seem meaningless or pointless for them to think about. Your true interests and concerns that you have most likely had all your life seem to take center stage and hold a great importance in your life from then on out. I think it is human nature that these priorities almost always incorporate family or loved ones into the equation because you'd like to spend your final moments with them in order to feel a sense of comfort and satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that priorities are solely exclusive to other people as they can also include things such as your favorite hobbies or prized possessions. This is because these memorabilia are what you put your emotions into and hold great sentimental value thus should be integral parts of the remaining time of your life. There is no shame in blowing the dust off that old blanket from your childhood to relish in those great memories you had growing up.

This brings me to my next point on something else that I believe almost always happens when it comes to the end of a life. Reflections on how you've lived your life are integral parts of bringing closure, which almost always needs to happen if you wish to end life with a sense of comfort knowing there still aren’t any unanswered questions or problems unsolved. When you reflect, you will in a sense relive all the memorable moments in your life but when you do this you have to make sure you go into it with the right mindset or else you can potentially bring unnecessary sadness or depression. You want to make sure you don't regret your previous actions and try and make sure you find justifications for what you chose to do. Even if you can’t, just remember that if things didn't turn out exactly the way they did in the past, you wouldn't have had the great opportunities and life you've had so far. You can always put a "what if" spin on to whatever you do but you'll drive yourself crazy thinking about the possibilities and it isn't worth spending what remaining time you've got worrying or regretting what you didn't do. Don’t regret or mourn but rather cherish and take pride in what you accomplished.

Now I can’t say that these are 100% accurate assumptions of what goes on when lives come to a halt as I have never personally been in a situation like this, but I have had plenty of people in my life go through this endeavor and for this reason I think it is safe to say that all of these factor into your mindset you have going into the final days of your life. Now back to the doctor in the beginning who said that when working with patients like my grandmother she had to rethink her philosophies on the difference between giving up and acceptance of death. Giving up is surrendering all of your hopes, admitting defeat, and not focusing on all the good things that remain and will continue to exist even when you’re gone. While fighting with death can seem like an uphill battle that we are all destined to lose, I wonder why it even has to be a battle to begin with. My personal philosophy on life is that we are all put on this Earth for a reason and we shouldn’t ever stop trying to reach it, no matter what. Accepting the natural expiration date in our lives doesn’t mean you just drop everything you’ve held dear and near to your heart. It means that you don’t attempt to protest death but have gotten to a comfortable point in your life where you feel willing to welcome it. The end of you physically doesn’t mean the end of you in other aspects of life. Your memory will last on and you will continue to affect those people who were in your life for many years to come so you want to make sure it’s a good one. Thank you for teaching this to me Grandma.

-Allan Nicholas

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