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October 18, 2012

'So how's it going?'

(Continued)

My answer is, “Yea, verily, my soul’s OK, thank thee.” 

As you know, I’ve long since defined Parkinsonism as a gift — not one I’d have chosen for myself, but a gift nonetheless, no less a one than my life itself and everything that’s marking its course.

When you think about it, a gift must have three characteristics: First, it must be of real value. (If somebody hands you something and says, “Here, take this damned thing. I’ve never liked it anyway,” then you haven’t received a gift but an insult.)

Second, it must be freely given; otherwise, it’s payment, or maybe a bribe.

Third, it must be undeserved by the receiver; otherwise, the second point applies here, too.

Now, nobody with sense denies that the gift of life is precious. Out of all the possible human conceptions that could have taken place down the ages, a specific chain of them leads to me -- and, of course, to you. A single zygote elbowed out of that line, and one of us would be talking to somebody else.

So life is a precious gift, and undeserved. Hey, how could we, in a state of non-existence, have won or claimed a right to it? 

And it was freely given, though that raises the huge questions, “by whom?” and “why?” Those questions (Dostoevsky called them, “the annoying Ultimates) lead right into philosophy, theology, and perhaps a stance of belief. 

As to the last-mentioned, I have my own and will gladly share it for the price of a coffee or a beer. But not in this column. I will say, however, that it’s my Quaker Christian belief that is holding me steady in spirit, even as my body and mind get wobblier.

But buy me a cup of coffee. I won’t proselytize, I promise! (Quakers aren’t out to recruit.) But, if you want, I will talk.

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