Word of the Day: druthers
noun plural druth·ers \ˈdrə-thərz\
def: the power or opportunity to choose
My room was wet, cold and rather noisy this morning. At the Crafts House, I am surrounded by sprinklers and a cement path, so my night consisted of intermittent shifts of mist diffusing through the windows and students’ voices echoing loudly between buildings. Needless to say, I hit the snooze button on my alarm until 8 a.m. as I decided to slowly melt in my bed reading New York Times articles instead.
I opened the first article that popped up on my iPhone due to its intriguing title: “A Dying Young Woman’s Hope in Cryonics and a Future.” In retrospect, not the best decision for my just awakening mental state. No one should ever subject themselves to the twisted mélange of emotions I felt while reading this article first thing in the morning. I teared up learning about Kim Suozzi’s journey through being diagnosed with brain cancer and entering the terminal state; was skeptical about her choice to cryogenically freeze her brain in hopes of it being revived again one day; and slightly astonished at the research behind this phenomena based in neuron connections called “connectome.” I was crying, still alone and freezing, by the time I read about her death. But then it all turned further south. Suozzi’s corpse was quickly ripped from her deathbed, thrown onto a bed of ice like a mackerel at an outdoor farmer’s market and shipped off to a nearby lab. The article went on to explain how her husband watched her head being chopped off and pumped with various liquids and chemicals, creating the image of a twisted French Revolution romance novella written up by Robespierre himself. A picture of the machine her brain was frozen in wrapped up the piece, and I was fairly certain I was going to combust due to my recent roller coaster ride of empathy, shock and wonder — all before I even put pants on or brushed my teeth.
Nonetheless, this story and my current academic state are oddly paralleled, which lead to today’s word of the day, “druthers.” As I spent the better half of pre-orientation, orientation and the first few days of class contemplating my classes and having several existential crises over what second major best accompanies an English degree, others are, at the same time, shopping for which freezer will be best value for their brain over the next century or so. Sadly, none seem to be available at The Home Depot. While the latter, admittedly, is vastly different and inclusive only to a very particular niche, the juxtaposition works even better when putting into perspective the notion of choices and the wide range they manifest into.
While it sounds odd, this story was actually the one thing that really put me at ease about my ability to choose a major, and especially reminded me of the privilege I have in making a decision that leads to positivity and opportunity. It wasn’t my parents’ affirmations that they would support me no matter what random endeavor I chose to pursue, countless upperclassmen telling me that I had plenty of time to decide or even physically mapping out the logistics of each semester with my advisor. Instead, it was the random article concerning a project about posthumous life that got to me. But in the end, I think that a reminder of life’s delicacy can do anyone good, as it offers a poignant message that choices we make on a daily basis are truly miniscule over one’s overall lifetime — or lifetimes, in Suozzi’s case.