Losing Your Mind vs. Losing Your Body

As people do, my grandmother has been growing old for quite some time now.

She still has her spirit, her humor, and most of her physical health, but she readily admits that her mind isn’t what it used to be. Her short-term memory in particular is quite bad.

Surely one of these guys is interested in a hug.

Knowing that she can’t trust her mind to retain information anymore, a few months ago she asked me to accompany her on a trip to the last place on Earth she wants to go but hasn’t visited (she’s quite the world traveler): Antarctica. Of course I said yes, partially because it’ll help me satisfy my 2012 goal of hugging a penguin, but unfortunately the trip fell through a month later when she decided that even with me as her guide, her mind wasn’t equipped to make the trip. Honestly, it probably would have been pretty hard on her body too.

This is completely subjective, but I feel like many old people either lose their mind or body, but not both, and rarely neither. So it got me thinking: If I had the choice, which would I lose? My mind or my body?

As much as I love physical activity–soccer, sprinting, walking, snuggling, massaging, showering, driving, hugging cats and penguins, wiping my own butt, etc–I have to say that I would sacrifice my body over my mind. I want my mind to stay active as late into life as possible. I don’t want people to talk to me like I’m a kid when I’m 80. I want to be sharp, funny. I want to continue to create. I want to be able to learn new things, like how to work the hologram projector. I want to retain long-term and short-term memories. I want to be able to tell stories.

If I have to lay in bed or sit in a chair to do those things, so be it. Plus, by then I have no doubt that we’ll be able to control robots and wheelchairs with our minds. So maybe I’ll be able to wipe my own butt with a robotic arm.

What about you? If you had the choice, which would you lose: mind or body? Have you witnessed anyone close to you lose either of those?

PS. A huge thank you to everyone who joined the conversation tonight about plagiarism on Facebook. It’s a huge discussion that I can’t replicate here, but you should be able to view it publicly if you look at my Facebook feed (even if you’re not my Facebook friend…it’s okay to friend me, though! Just let me know who you are in a message or something if I don’t know you in real life).