Letter: Draw a map to make your path clearer to all

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Draw a map to make your path clear to all

To the editor:

Imagine yourself at a crossroads, a fork in the road. You can go right or left, north or south, east or west. The choice you make determines your fate, so it is not a decision to be made rashly, lightly or in the heat of the moment.

You planned every step of this journey, much like planning a strenuous detailed hike or a thoughtfully navigated road trip. Every turn and change of direction has a reason. One cannot make a rational decision in the darkness, the cold, the delirium of sleeplessness, or the heat of the moment. It's too hard to do.

Now, imagine this: you have a map! You have the golden ticket: a tangible real thing that you can hold in your hands and know exactly which turn to take. You don't have to rely on gray areas or interpretation: North is north, south is south. A turn or change in direction was indicated because that's exactly what the explorer wanted to do! The planned expedition has a destination, but most importantly, a concrete and well thought out path to get to the destination.

Now, most conveniently, imagine this: the map was drafted by the person who planned the trip! The person who decided to take this road trip made a decision: it was either a cautious trip or a spontaneous one. Regardless of the route, it was neither wrong nor right. It was the perfect trip — each part thoughtfully and purposefully coordinated.

Some of us reading this might be deterred. We don't like maps or plans. We, most likely theoretically, like to take life as it comes and spontaneously. Live in the moment! We like to think that we can take whatever life throws at us and that maybe, a higher power can guide us and take us to the best traveled route. But most of us, more often than not, have experienced that hindsight is 20/20. If only we had known this would be the outcome, we maybe would have made a different choice.

What I have just described is called an Advanced Directive. It should be completed by anyone and should be honored by everyone. At one time, it was a consciously thought out plan. A plan meant to be executed. It was not meant to be left to interpretation or heat of the moment alterations. The explorer had a destination, and a detailed path to get there, a path that most certainly didn't involve subjective pain or tortuous futile turns. The author of said map made it that way for a reason. Follow the path! And without guilt.

Molly Murphy, Boston The writer is an ICU nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital and a native of Pittsfield.


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