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Mortals And Mortality

By Art van Bodegraven | 05/28/2017 | 8:27 AM

Even in today's enlightened environment, buttressed by daily discoveries in science, people continue to fall prey to disease, and die with distressing frequency.  When someone receives a diagnosis of a fatal condition, with a prognosis for imminent demise, there are only a few rational options for moving forward.

The major option is recognition that death is a card rising to the top of the deck.  The major choices are to die quietly; some elect to die less quietly.  The first cohort elicits admiration for acceptance; the second can wear out its welcome relatively soon.

On either path, the aflicted may choose to use his or her situation to educate and comfort others similarly cursed.  In the process, one sub-option is to kep one's head down and continue to work, to do the job at hand as well as it deserves to be done.

The lesson is pretty much the same, no matter what form an affliction takes.  It might be one of the dozens of cancers that visit among us.  (Even the relatively uncommon pancreatic cancer has some three dozen variants.). It might be a cardiac or pulmonary condition for which conventional medications have little beneficial affect.

So, we see all manner of examples of handling the end stages of life.  Craig Sager worked to the end from the basketball sidelines with a form of leukemia.  Patrick Swayze worked at his performing craft, then died.  Some of us work, advocate for fellow-sufferers, and focus on giving back our best work to our chosen field.  Sharon Jones comes to mind.  Randy Pausch devoted his final days to The Last Lecture, and gave pancreatic cancer the focus it had never had previously.  Steve Jobs decided that he was smarter and tougher than his cancer, and defied medical advice.  By the time he got a liver transplant, it was way too late, and the calendar gave Steve a time-out he didn't want to take.  Others have lived and died publicly with HIV/AIDS, or with COPD, or black lung, or various tobacco-induced conditions.

Dealking with reality, a person might be afflicted with ancillary issues as a part of the mortality process.  They can be awkward and/or painful.  Their disposition has to be accepted as a part of the package, particularly as they are far superior to the ultimate end game. The side effects of a fatal condition are significantly less annoying than deathb and dying.

Whatever path one chooses, I'm OK with.  Except for those devoted to searching for a cure, traveling to international destinatiuons to sample procedures or substances not approved in the US - those whose sole interest lies in not dying as a selfish act of individual survival.  No one deserves pain and suffering, of course.  But, if one's last act is to stay in denial, it refelects poorly on values and how others might benefit from an example of grace under pressure.

All this has been focused on the ultimate human condition.  But, the principles apply to home life, to work life, and to how a person handles ultimate separation from a role, a job, a responsibility.



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About Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven (1939 - 2017) was Managing Principal of the van Bodegraven Associates consultancy and Founding Principal of Discovery Executive Services, which develops and delivers supply chain educational programs. He was formerly Chair of the Supply Chain Group AG, Partner at The Progress Group LLC, Development Executive at CSCMP, Practice Leader with S4 Consulting, and a Managing Director in Coopers & Lybrand's consulting practice. Concentrating in supply chain management and logistics for over 20 years in his 50+ year business career, he has led ground-breaking strategic, operational, and educational projects for leading US and global clients. Art was principal co-author of DC Velocity's Basic Training monthly column for a decade, and was the principal co-author, with Ken Ackerman, of Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management, the definitive primer in the field. His popular blog, The Art of Art, has been a staple of DC Velocity's web site since its inception.


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