October 12th, 2004

Christopher Reeve

Aristotle thought pity was a feeling you wanted to eliminate from your system.  The catharsis of tragedy was supposed to purge fear and pity from your system, and he thought that was a good thing.

I suppose when you purge them you are fearless and pitiless?  At least until fear and pity begin to accumulate again?

Christopher Reeve's paralyzed state brought out both pity and fear in me.  Mostly pity, but when I looked at him, it blended into fear of what if that were to happen to me.

I used to look at him and think, "I'd rather be dead."  But then I'd think, well, surrounded by loving family, plenty of money to pay the bills, lots of people glad to see you.  If you're going to be paralyzed, that's one of the better situations available.  But, still.

There's an old play, Whose Life Is It Anyway, about a paralyzed guy who wants to die.  They made a movie of it, too.  I never saw it.  Sounded too depressing.  But I respected the point.  You have a right to end your existence, and if it's miserable without hope of betterment, you have reason.

(Not to be confused with the improv comedy TV show, Whose Line Is It Anyway)

But there is so much hope of betterment when you live in a world of astounding scientific advances.  Even when your medical situation is abysmal, there is usually hope of some fantastic breakthrough.  Stem cell infusions that let you walk again, for instance.

Alas, in his case, no breakthrough came in time.  He seemed to bear his plight bravely and hopefully, and for that I admire him.

Rhyme of the Day:

Just to go
Onstage and show 
A smiling face
Took guts and grace.