The Monitor

The Monitor bleeped and whirred. The shell lay in the bed. Was there still a person within the frail frame, or had her spirit flown away? How can you tell? What is the spirit anyway? A collection of neural pathways connected together to make a person or something less tangible, harder for a scientist to understand. Can you quantify a person’s memories and being within the electronics of the nervous system, or is there something else that we can’t see or hear, or feel or quantify. We are obsessed as humans with being able to measure and understand, as if by doing this we can gain some control of our world around us, but what if it just is? How can we assess who should live or die, whether they are still alive or if the insubstantial part of them that is just them, separate from their body, has travelled somewhere else. The woman down the corridor calls out in distress, confused by her own demons and confusing images, small windows onto her old life that open up momentarily and disappear, so that she is once more silent and unseeing. Is her spirit caught within a cage within her, trying to come out, but her weak and damaged body and brain trap it there? The family gather round the monitor. Haggard faces gaze down, bruised and made pale by lack of sleep and sorrow. Should they agree to let their loved one go and fly away to somewhere else, free from the shackles of the shell around, but how do we know for sure that they will fly, is this it? Are we just a pile of bones and DNA, strung together by evolution and chance, or is there a greater hand at work? Will they see them again? We are fragile miracles of beauty and pain.

-Penny

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