Ode to joy in thriving, driving and dying

The joy of seeing the sun rise as I arrive for my volunteer work at San Diego Medical Center reminds me of the wonderful sunrises we experienced while camping with our Airstream travel trailer for the past 10 years in the Anza-Borrego Desert.

The cool morning air is crisp and refreshing, and a thriving dawn chorus of birds is heard as hospital workers scurry along curving sidewalks lit up with miniature, multicolored LED lights as they make their way to their work stations.  I’ve already put on my royal blue Nike Air Zoom Pegasus running shoes for a day of escorting family members and friends to see their loved ones in pre-op, recovery, and post-op rooms.

My recent change from working as a docent in a well-known San Diego historic house museum to working in San Diego’s newest state-of-the-art hospital has infused me with a new sense of thriving.  As noted in Kaiser Permanente’s A History of Total Health, “In 2004 Kaiser Permanente launched its Thrive advertising campaign, which spotlighted the health plan’s continuing emphasis on healthy living to help patients stay well,” as illustrated in their commercial Power to Change*

And this spirit carried over to my adding customized license plate holders for our new RAV4 Hybrid.

This hybrid compact crossover SUV is relatively healthier for the environment and us.  It is easier to get in and out, carries lots of cargo, including our corgi Tasha, and makes it easier to manage and unload cargo from the rear.  I am seen below transferring koi food from a 50-lb. bag to empty Costco pretzel containers. Working smarter, not harder… and wearing my Ridin’ with Biden hat (See Joe Biden Speaks With Meghan McCain About Cancer*).

Speaking about thriving, flowering cacti are next to 11 thriving koi in our 20′ backyard pond…

(Click on images to enlarge them.)

Along with many other joyful blooms such as Dendrobium orchids  (below).

Purple Trumpet Vine (below)

Red Trumpet Vine (below)

Epidendrum (below)

And last week, the exquisite Epidendrum hookeri, showed its first bloom since our neighbor Kelly gave us a cutting a couple of years ago (below).

The life of this Epidendrum flower was brief.  It opened during the evening and night before and quickly died by mid-morning as the sun bore down.

Another drama played out last week half way around the world as Australia’s oldest working scientist, David Goodall, 104, botanist and ecologist, flew from Australia to Basel, Switzerland to die on his own terms.  According to the May 10, 2018 New York Times article, Mr. Goodall said, “I no longer want to continue life, and I am happy to have a chance tomorrow to end it.”  The article states that David was not terminally ill, but he had experienced significant deterioration in his quality of life, and went to “Switzerland, the only country that offers assisted-dying services to foreigners if the person assisting does not benefit from the person’s death.”  The article also says that David chose the final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Sympathy as his last song and he died the moment “Ode to Joy“* concluded!

Encore: Stephen Hawking Sings Monty Python… Galaxy Song*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Additional resources:

A Life & Death Conversation with Dr. Bob Uslander“, Otto Radio

Why David Goodall, 104, Renowned Australian Scientist, Wants to to Die,” Yonette Joseph, New York Times, May 3, 2018.

David Goodall, 104, Scientist Who Fought to Die on His Terms, Ends His Life,” Yonette Joseph and Iliana Magra, New York Times, May 10, 2018.

One Last Drink: San Diegans who end their lives,” San Diego Reader, April 26, 2018.

Compassion & Choices

Hemlock Society of San Diego

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Abrams

The Dalai Lama: “The Book of Joy”* (CBS Sunday Morning)


About Bill D.

Bill is a retired RN who has enjoyed working as a docent in a well-known historic house museum, and now is a proud volunteer in San Diego's newest state-of-the-art hospital, Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center. He enjoys reading, writing, and meditating, especially about mindfulness as discussed by Zen master, spiritual leader, and author Thich Nhat Hanh. (Photo credit: Jokie Tolentino)
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2 Responses to Ode to joy in thriving, driving and dying

  1. Bert Gildart says:

    Bill, I thoroughly enjoyed your recent post that included so many images of flowers. But more than anything, both Janie and I appreciated your comments on end of the life strategies and the link to “Stephen Hawking Sings Monty Python”. Though we’ve known you for years we didn’t realize the depth of your philosophical insights. We also appreciate Larry’s depths and suspect he’s helped shape some of your ideas.
    Again, we look forward to seeing you both this fall, and enjoying what for all of us will probably under more relaxed circumstances.


  2. Bev George munoz says:

    The flowers make us nostalgic for our desert. Thanx for Steven Luv Him Bev&Geo


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