Thursday, September 07, 2006

Caregiving metaphysics vs philosophy

My “re-education” ironically began turning to philosophy even though I stubbornly refuse to label my new thinking a ‘philosophy of caregiving’.

Hey, I was a 30 something American male! In the “new age” USA of the late 80’s and 90’s, “what about me?” thinking seemed to surround me. The increasing isolation of caregiving was confusing.

I knew I had to push thinking about “me” into the background. I became intrigued with the Roman Stoics trying to pursue a path toward a Stoic indifference to my own existence. “Trying” is the operative word.

If harmony could be achieved by balancing a conscious “indifference to my own existence” with the demands of caregiving and parenting that certainly seemed a path worth exploring.

It sure beat the despair and loneliness that swallowed me each night when the day’s tasks were done.

Always hearing words like handicapped or disabled started to rub me the wrong way. What Patti was going through and we were going through as a family was not “dis” anything. In Friedrich Nietzsche, I found encouragement reading that tragedy gives us nobility, power, and heroism.

“Life is a fight with fate as well as passions,”

practically became a mantra as the years rolled by.

It was refreshing to hear that the “struggle” itself was noble rather than the stereotypical American view that it’s all about achieving success.

I dusted off a life long fascination with Henry David Thoreau. Half a dozen times in my life, I’ve made “pilgrimages” to Walden Pond. Pictured I’m hanging out with a statue of ol’ Henry when I took Megan for my most recent pilgrimage.

On my first visit as a parent and caregiver, we skipped stones across the surface of that transcendental eye of the universe, Walden Pond, and found fresh meaning in the often quoted line from the conclusion of "Walden".

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."

Caregiving is unquestionably the beat of different drummer.

Choice unendingly stalks the caregiver. Feeding my mind helped, and seasoned the recipe for my gumbo metaphysics of caregiving.


  1. so insightful, Patrick. I'm awed and humbled by your writing of this series of entries that I'm even speechless on what to comment. (but please don't go another 4 days between entries, okay?)


  2. I see so many caregivers everyday in my job, that would really benefit from your writings. Will be glad to see it in book form one day soon I hope. Bam

  3. Caregiving is definitly a choice and one that can not be taken lightly. On the other hand, it is so easy to forget you have needs also. Balance of life is an art to be learned.  I don't know about you, but sometimes the new words (I call them fluff words that make those with a 'normal' life feel 'ok' about everything... <grin>) just does not define or encompass all the issues the caregiver, as well the person with the health problems face each day...  

  4. I see so many people caregiving for family members and they just burn out and quit.  Your thinking and your passion seems to motivate you farther than everyone else who attempts this.  Wonderful entry.

  5. I'm glad that you could find inspirations in other's writings--I know some find inspiration in yours.

  6. You made the right choice, Patrick. What you said about feeding the mind... that's what I do to help me with the blocks and barriers I come against as a classroom teacher and advocate for special needs kids. keep writing.



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