Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Delicious Life

I saw the movie, "The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly", a few days ago. It's based on the autobiography of the Elle magazine editor who suffered a stroke and was paralyzed completely, except for one eye. He used this one eye to blink "yes" or "no", and in this way, wrote his book.

This man in the movie was suffering my ultimate nightmare -- being trapped inside my body, unable to move, feel, or speak. It seems horrifyingly like being entombed alive.

A friend who recommended the movie to me said it was sad and I might shed some tears. But I didn't find it sad at all. I didn't feel sorry for the guy. He seemed more alive than many people I know who AREN'T paralyzed.

He said there were two things other than his eye that were not paralyzed: his memory and his imagination.

In one scene, as he's being fed through his IV drip, he imagines being in a restaurant with a beautiful woman. They're sucking oysters from the shell, picking up food with their hands, letting the juices drip down their chins. That's one of the most memorable scenes from any movie I've ever seen. It felt deliciously sensual and alive.

In another scene, the guy is in a wheelchair at the beach, watching his children run around on the sand. It looked like late summer, with a slight chill in the wind and bright sunlight bathing the whole scene. The wind kept blowing hair in their eyes as they romped around the beach. You could see the white-light reflection of the sun off their skin. You could almost feel and breathe the salt air.

These two scenes made the movie for me. And they gave me new appreciation for everything I still have. Just being able to taste and feel food in my mouth or being able to touch and hug my kids seem like delicious delights.

I came out of this movie feeling very alive and incredibly lucky. I could walk. I could talk. I could swallow my own saliva. I didn't have to be wheeled around, fed through an IV drip, moved around like a rag doll.

I won't become paralyzed like this man, but I realize there may come a time when I won't be able to taste food, move without pain, or walk. But that day isn't now. Right now, I've got oysters to savor, faces to kiss, and so many things to touch, smell and taste.

After the movie, I went off my diet for a few days and ate some naughty treats. I tasted every molecule of every bite, I think. I know these foods aren't good for me, but I thought I'd enjoy some of these tastes while I still can. Besides, I'll go back on my diet tomorrow and have the memory of the tastes I had to keep me going for some time.

I think some of the pleasures in life, especially food and drink, are meant to move us closer to death. Maybe we weren't meant to live to be a hundred and we're just getting greedy. Maybe we're meant to pack 100 years of life into just half that time so that we can enjoy what we have even more.

1 comment:

Carol said...

Reminds me of a Sufi story.

Man is walking and sees a tiger who chases him. The man runs but the tiger is gaining ground. In front of him is a hugh cliff. He sees a rope hanging from it and jumps and grabs the rope. He looks up and sees 2 mice, one black and one white gnawing at the rope. He looks in front of him and sees a stawberry patch. He picks a strawberry and enjoys it.

You are now not only beautiful and strong and loving and generous but also wise!

Keep enjoying this precious life. Can't wait for that pepper crab!!!
Love and hugs, Carol