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Aimee's picture

A Final Confession


I’m going to miss this course. Jeesh, what a change! I remember my first week of ESEM, and the terror that arose when I learned that I would write a weekly 3-page paper about NOTHING. I recall quite vividly complaining to my friends about the lack of prompts, and I remember their responses equally well. “Wow, Aimee! I’m glad I’m not in your ESEM.” My ESEM. That’s what it feels like now. I have ownership of a part of it – a timeshare of sorts. And every time I write a post, answer a question, or write an essay, I am engaging what I’ve learned while contributing to the knowledge of others. It’s a powerful feeling.

Thomas King wrote, “The truth about stories is that that’s all we are.” 

I am beginning to understand the truth in his words. My mind and those of my peers are brimming with ideas and beliefs. Those ideas and beliefs came, in part, from our predecessors. I remember my mother’s words in my ear: “Aimee, procrastination is bad!” (I never listened). I remember the words of my Sunday school teachers: ”See! And God said, ‘Let there be light.’ Just like the Big Bang.” I remember Anne’s words: “Risky, hard, important, and required: that you contribute to 
ongoing conversation/learning of us all.” 

The truth about stories is that it’s all I am. I am bits and pieces - genetically, religiously, culturally – of my forbearers. Through my mitochondrial DNA, I tell the story of my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and so forth. Through my beliefs and opinions, I tell a story of life events that have shaped me. Through my neurons and glial cells, my brain tells a story of self. I’m an Aimee, a cohesive, unified ice cream cone. Right?

I’m not so sure. I’ve been entertaining the “society of mind” hypothesis instead of doing my homework. You understand that I struggle with the unknown. You realize that I’m a nut-nut who doesn’t like the bipartite brain, even as I grow to accept its importance. Even if I don’t want to be bipartite, or divided into a trillion cells, I must accept that I am a bunch of pieces. I still think I’m cohesive and unified, but a society can be cohesive and unified too. Look at North Korea. So, what am I? What predominates? The parts or the person? Oy, this is confusing. This ESEM might be the cause of my mental breakdown.   

I am a story. How odd. Everything is a story. It’s turtles all the way down. How should I remember that statement? With fondness and smiles? Or with confusion and worry? I’m going to try for the smiles.

Let’s face it: life’s a story. The good new is: I (we?) can contribute to it. This weekend, I spent time researching my final ESEM paper. The topic: Why a brain with dementia constructs stories.

 And I realized that I was fascinated by what I was learning. I sat there enthralled, wondering how I could contribute to our knowledge of dementia and the raw humanity of aging. I could see myself as a geriatrician, or a medical anthropologist studying senescence, or a biologist researching Lewy body dementia. The possibilities were really reassuring; I have so many ways to tell a story of my own.  



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