It’s good to pause and take stock of the journey. Our lives will seldom be straightforward progress narratives. For the people whose health is deteriorating, this process of looking at the journey is a really hard one, and can be painful. Whether it’s better to try not to look at what’s happening or whether to face it, is a really personal question and I’m not going to judge anyone’s choices around this. Sometimes it’s possible to have a better quality of life if you aren’t studying your trajectory.
Those of us who have the privilege of getting old will face both that issue of trajectory, and the question of what time ahead of us looks like compared to the time we’ve already had. One of the ideas I’ve been working with for some time is that it is worth putting in the effort just to have one good day, one day that was better than it might have been. Even if you can’t re-write the story of your life.
This is a conclusion I came to while taking on older cats, at least one of whom had suffered considerably. I can’t undo what’s been done. I might not be able to compensate for it. But if there can be good days, or months or even some good years, that’s worth putting up a fight for. It’s worth trying for that, however brief it may be. I think the same thing applies to humans. No matter what’s behind us, it is worth trying for a future that has the greatest possible good in it.
Where there’s life, there are reasons to try. It’s never too late. It’s never the case that the history of grim or dysfunctional things destroys the point of trying to make anything good in the future. There is never a point at which it makes sense to give up entirely. For the elderly rescue cat, one good day is a miracle, and can open the way to more good days. Whatever the present looks like, it is always worth trying to do the best you can with whatever is ahead of you. Sometimes, of course, winning isn’t possible, some things cannot be fixed. Nevertheless, there’s always something worth trying for.
Sometimes, one good day is also, everything.