The degradation of the physical self

Was walking through the hospital today and all of a sudden it occurred to me that I might one day be among the sick and sequestered, the dying and disabled. I looked around me and saw all those people in wheelchairs, being pushed around to wherever they had to go, and not to where they wanted to go. There were also many old people whom sat staring into the winds and chatter and at all about them that brimmed with life. One day, I thought to myself – one day, I might well be amongst them; and the younger ones will walk past me, thinking as I am thinking now; about the inevitable degradation of the physical self. Or perhaps they will not even notice me, just as no one notices dirt; and I will be as close to returning to the dirt of the earth as I can be. And everyday I shall inhale the cold, sterile air of the hospital, and people in white coats will come to prod and poke me and conduct sorts of test to determine if there is still any life left in me. I will be wheeled around to the different levels and then back to my bed; and all this will happen in a whir because my mind would have grown too slow to understand what is happening. I will not be able to do anything that I love; but neither will I lament, since I will not know what I was once able to do and what I once had great passion for. Everything would have been lost – even myself.

A boy’s shoelace had gotten caught in gap between the steps of the escalator. It took me awhile to register the situation, and I was deciding whether or not I should press the red stop button. But so swiftly, a man came running up from below and threw his weight onto the boy so that the tip of the shoelace snapped off, and the boy was freed from the clenched teeth of the escalator. I don’t suppose I’ll survive very well in any disaster.

You say you want to live ‘according to nature’? But whatever does that mean? Is not nature indifferent and wasteful and capricious – do you really wish to make of these the aims of your life? Living is precisely an overcoming of nature.


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