Friday, May 14, 2010
The Big Sleep (Part 2)
I saw a documentary clip about comas. In it a woman was exhibiting on what has become a familiar medical screen, the nearest to a flat line that you can get without being vegetative. Her children were going scatty with worry and despair. What did they do? They assumed that she could hear, though the doctors were doubtful. One of them told her that their father and her husband (of forty or fifty years) had decided to take another woman on their long planned cruise around the world. The effect was instantaneous. She sat up, opened her eyes and proceeded to be highly indignant!
I suspect this might be a good dinner party game. What would wake YOU up from a coma? Since science recently is theorising that our emotional centres rule our logical consciousness to the extent that we respond to situations by gut reaction – and then summon up post-hoc rationalisations, what wakes you up must be exceptionally disturbing/passionate or even obsessive. We hear that people have been woken from their Big Sleeps by being played their favourite musical tracks – the karaoke cure, by the arrival of their dogs or cats – animal magnetism, or by smelling the scent of their favourite flower – pollination. Yet without these mysterious trial and error interventions, they might have lain there forever, puttering along in their interiors, happily ignoring their physical interaction with the world in favour of floating ever closer to the great abyss.
Death will arrive all too soon and flatten out, forever, the lines of our mental functioning. So, the sooner we leave instructions on what our nearest and dearest must do to raise us from this simulated extinction, the quicker we will click out of comas and engage with the business of living each moment as if it is our last. This is probably a better definition of a ‘living will’ than the usual.