“Boyhood” and “Being Mortal”: Agency, Agency, Agency

Projects for the New Paradigm

I spent my winter break with a 2-year old whose mantra, as you might imagine, was “I do it myself!” Her areas of expertise: steps and doors. I quickly learned that if I tried to open the door, she would shriek. If I let her do it, she would try and try until she got it. I had to be patient, but she stopped shrieking as I learned to be patient and give her time and space to perfect her craft.

I’ve just finished Atul Gawande’s thoughtful and significant book, Being Mortal. In it, he reflects on our reluctance to acknowledge, much less embrace, the notion that our bodies will, in fact diminish, and we will, one day, face the end of our lives. He examines not only death, but quality of life and care for the elderly, and the ways in which we restrict autonomy and remove agency…

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