Can you guess which generation is Generation Smug?

Sibylesque George Orwell quote When it comes to food we always think we’re smarter than our parents and, as George Orwell noted, wiser than out kids. So which generation is Generation Smug? Yours!!! Sibylesque Milk Carton nutrition 2 photo source: pinterest unattributed

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Can you guess which generation is Generation Smug?

Sibylesque George Orwell quote When it comes to food we always think we’re smarter than our parents and, as George Orwell noted, wiser than out kids. So which generation is Generation Smug? Yours!!! Sibylesque Milk Carton nutrition 2 photo source: pinterest unattributed

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If you learn how to die, you’ll learn how to live

Sibylesque Being Mortal quote

BEING MORTAL: Medicine and What Matters in the End

By Atul Gawande 

Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Company, 2014.

Review by Kerry Cue

Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande

The reason this book is so meaningful, so compelling and why it ranks as a rare must-read is because, in telling the story of how to die a good death, it slowly addresses an equally important question namely ‘how  are we to live a good and meaningful life?’

Sibylesque The three fates

Atul Gawande, surgeon and writer for The New Yorker, dreams of new ways of caring for the frail and old. He questions the bureaucratic nature of aged care institutions where the elderly are kept ‘safe’, but hardly ‘alive’. And he rails against the invasive, painful and ultimately futile medical procedures inflicted on the dying. Yet this book is no dry academic tome. Gawande tells the storxy of dying and death of his father, also a surgeon, from first discovering the tumor in the spinal column, through the family’s struggling with medical options – operate? His father might become a quadriplegic. Don’t operate, he may become a quadriplegic! – to his father’s final days.

There is one strong and clear message from this thoughtful exploration of the end stage. Patients could have good days even when dying. But to achieve this goal they must be asked, or think about, at least, ‘what are your greatest fears?’ and ‘what are your current goals?’ Simple questions but from the answers patients discover how they are to live in their final days and, eventually, die.

Gawande has managed to take the fear away from our modern, Western view of dying, which, in many aspects involves, an impersonal, sterile, ICU bed intubated with a tube down the throat and a total loss of control. Dying need not be like this. Gawande shows how the human spirit can flourish and life can be fully lived to the very end.

curlicue

Photo source: Unsourced book review blog, Tapestry held in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

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They fly forgotten as a dream

by Maren Rawlings

 sibylesque e e cummings quote

On my walk, if I come round the corner quietly I find the path through the park is occupied by a flock of galahs and tufted (native) pigeons. The galahs greet me raucously and fly into the pines but the pigeons stubbornly walk ahead of me in single file with short busy steps like matrons making for the bed linen department in Boxing Day sale. Finally the one at the back takes to the wing with a high, soft fluted cry and lands at the front of the formation as they turn off the path and then stop to look at me with a disapproving air.

filmstrip beehive hair do

My mind goes back to a teacher in secondary school with a grey high French roll just like a pigeon tuft. Her legs, under her ample “pouter” torso, were thin and bird like and she moved with the same strutting business. On her way from Assembly to classes she would sing with the honesty of a deeply religious woman. Her mind, however, was not tidy, so that we would come from reedy renditions of “Brightest and best of the suns of the morning, Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid…” to hear her intoning “Time like an ever rolling stream, Bears all its sons away, They fly forgotten as a dream, Dies at the opening day”. Phew, thank goodness we were daughters, we laughed, ignoring her spinster state, a fault no doubt, of someone’s son.

filmstrip pigeon

My sister-in-law, a lorikeet, can not only sing, but she can play the piano at the same time (even standing up), so when she disappears to “practise” there is no possibility of recalling her from the realms of angels.

Music, it is said, originated probably with the imitation of bird calls. There is evidence that perception of the octave might be shared among species, but the number of distinct notes between that tonal recurrence is a matter of culture or taste. Music of itself is not judged to be positive or negative, although particular assortments of notes may not be pleasing (especially when my husband sings). It can be a subversive and highly satisfying mode of expression.

filmstrip beehive hair do

The first song I taught my granddaughter, “Cry baby bunting, Daddy’s gone a-hunting, Gone to catch a rabbit skin to put the baby bunting in”, was my childish response to having to procure and prepare meals for my ethically vegetarian son-in-law. I knew he had the higher moral ground!

Give the galahs and other birds a serve of their own

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Maren RawlingsMaren Rawlings is a fabulously diverse educator and music devotee. She has taught at city and country schools including a 22-year stint at MLC, Melbourne. She has lectured in psychology at RMIT University and Melbourne Uni, written Psychology textbooks and, in 2011, graduated PhD in “Humour at Work” at Swinburne University where she currently tutors.

Maren is President of the Star Chorale, a community choir and this year they sing Verdi’s Requiem with the Zelman Orchestra.

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Photo Source: Unsourced

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