If you go to your doctor for a checkup and he starts asking questions about whether you consider life worth living or whether you feel impending disaster, don’t take it personally.
He’s just complying with still another government requirement that must be causing some doctors to have second thoughts about taking on any more Medicare patients.
My doctor has a good sense of humor, so we got through the questionnaire without my thinking he was surreptitiously seeking to get me committed.
In fact, at the end of the session, he pronounced that, according to my answers, I’m “supremely happy” and not likely to leap off a building or stick my head into a gas oven.
The ritual included a memory test. The doctor gave me three words – socks, blue and bed – to remember. Five minutes later, he asked me to recite them.
I reeled off “socks, blue and bed” with considerable self-satisfaction. So that was that.
Well, it wasn’t really. Fifteen minutes later, when he asked me to recite the three words, I could remember only two: bed and blue.
That night, I awoke several times, trying to remember the three words. Am I worried? No. I applied the memory test to two younger friends with similar results.
That’s not to say that memory doesn’t wane in all of us as time goes by.
I’m reminded of something a younger cousin related at a Snow reunion when someone asked her whether she believed in the Hereafter.
“I certainly do,” she replied. “More and more I find myself in the basement asking myself, ‘Now what am I here after.’ ”
Let’s look at some of the 15 questions on the test. Some are difficult to answer with a simple “yes” or “no.”
Do you often feel bored?
Feeling bored at times is common to human nature.
We can even be bored at a swinging party, at a slow-moving baseball game, during long speeches or on a day when the fish aren’t biting.
Life isn’t designed to be an ongoing circus of high-wire walkers.
Are you afraid that something bad is going to happen to you?
Don’t most of us, except the young who feel immortal, at times feel the sword of Damocles hanging over our heads by just a thread?
Considering today’s hazards – constant war, a daily diet of crime, frequent gun violence, increasing numbers of natural disasters such as typhoons, earthquakes and hurricanes – I think it’s normal to entertain thoughts of impending doom.
Do you feel full of energy?
Well, I no longer play golf, participate in the Old Reliable Run or lift weights. But then I never did any of those anyway.
I’m grateful for enough zip to work out two or three times a week at the Rex Wellness gym.
Do you think it’s wonderful to be alive?
Considering the alternative, you can bet your boots I do!
For the most part, I’ve always felt it was wonderful to be alive, even during times when life wasn’t what I’d like it to be.
Do you think most other people are better off than you are?
Does he mean financially, physically or mentally?
Regardless, I’ll borrow my answer to that one from Aunt
in the musical “Oklahoma.”
Urging the cowmen and the farmers to be friends, she sings, “I don’t say I’m better than anybody else. But I’ll be damned if I ain’t jist as good!”
Do you feel your life is empty?
This sounds like the “glass half-empty or half-full syndrome.” No, although my glass has felt less than overflowing at times, it’s never felt empty.
I thought these questions might provide you with fodder for thought and perhaps inspire you to discuss them with a friend or family member.
Now, tell me, without cheating by glancing at the top of the column, what were those three words Dr. Starkenburg asked me to remember?
A good resolution
I’m skipping New Year’s resolutions, which I seldom keep anyway.
Instead, I’d like to leave with you a bumper sticker message I saw on a car on Glenwood Avenue:
“Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.”
What better resolution for 2014 than that?
Snow: 919-836-5636 or firstname.lastname@example.org