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Fraying at the Edges

A thoughtful, tragic, beautiful article by N. R. Kleinfield, New York Times senior Metro reporter, appeared last week: "Fraying at the Edges", an extended profile of Alzheimer's victim Geri Taylor. Amidst the frustrations and fears as her mind goes, meta-paradoxically shrinking cognition brings expanding freedom, transcending of self — a Zen Buddhist-like escape from the "I" delusion:

... "Years ago, I definitely had more of an ego. Now I don't have an idea of myself. And so I have less of an ego. Frankly, I don't care what people think of me. I'm more in a survival mode, one foot in front of the other. Don't spill the coffee."

This idea that Alzheimer's swallowed up the ego was her own unproven postulate. "I don't know why this is," she said. "But I've tested it with a few other people with Alzheimer's, and they say the same thing. It's our dirty little secret."

So Ms. Taylor didn't care what people thought of her?

"I don't know if I totally don't care," she said. "But I'm as close to it as I ever thought I could be." ...

And in an accompanying piece ("Learn You Have Alzheimer's, Then Invite a Reporter to Tail You? Really?") Kleinfield told how the project began:

I needed someone introspective who could distill what was happening inside the brain. Ms. Taylor was ideal, both bright and reflective. She was not reluctant to talk generously about what the disease was doing to her. In fact, she enjoyed doing so. Her insights enabled me to comprehend the movement of Alzheimer's through her mind.

Alzheimer's is far from a cheerful illness. It eats at one's soul. When I began with Ms. Taylor some two years ago, I did not know what the journey would be like, only her prediction.

At the conclusion of that first meeting, when we agreed that we wanted to proceed, she wrapped up the conversation by looking at me with her gentle eyes, flashing her smile and saying, "Well, you better be prepared to have fun!"

Did we ever.

(cf. Coming to Our Senses (2009-01-01), Unselfing (2009-01-14), Contemplative Zombie (2009-08-04), Unselfing Again (2009-11-01), Anatman Living (2013-07-13), Clinging Is Optional (2013-08-21), It is Thou (2014-09-24), Fear of Failing (2015-07-08), Mantra - For Us (2015-11-28), I Want Happiness (2015-12-04), No Me (2016-01-18), ...) - ^z - 2016-05-04