Warehouse 13 is a show on Syfy about artifacts that wreak havoc in the world. Each artifact comes from some historical figure like Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Jimmy Hendrix, H.G. Wells, and many other famous and not so famous people who have mostly extraordinary stories. The story line goes that these paranormal objects are somehow embued by their former owners with powerful abilities. For example, Ghandi’s slippers made you feel so peaceful that your heart would actually stop beating if you wore them for too long.
I’m watching season three on netflix and the episode I watched today featured an artifact that belonged to Typhoid Mary. The object transferred one person’s illness to another when both people grasped a hold of it. In the episode, an older man stole it so that he could transfer his son’s leukemia to himself, thereby allowing his son to live a long life and be a father to his grandson.
Click on the above photo to visit PBS’s article Typhoid Mary: Villain or Victim?
So I was thinking, what if such technology really existed?
In my early twenties I spent a lot of time telling myself and anyone else who would listen that even if I could change the challenges I have faced, and continue to face, I wouldn’t, because then I
wouldn’t be me
. But in this instance, I think that line of reasoning only goes so far. Because we’re only talking about illness here, not about all challenges ever.
So what if there was this technology that existed? And what if there were people, really old people, at the very end of their lives, who were willing to take a younger person’s illness to the grave with them? Certainly that older person would still be sacrificing something, a peaceful death perhaps; or maybe we would allow doctor-assisted suicide in this case, if the patient were very old, opted for it, and wanted to help these other people.
I would be the first in line. Because mental illness is not who I am; it is not the singular factor that defines me, but it does directly effect how I show up in the world. It changes the quality of my personality, my relationships, my work, my joy. Rather than adding something to who I am and have become, it takes away from me. Without mental illness, I would be a better me, more creative, compassionate, selfless. I would write more, love more, live more.
(Of course, there are advances in science as a result of medical research and the kind of compassion and understanding that shared illness can inspire to consider. And if any such technology did exist, it would certainly somehow turn our society into a dystopian nightmare, because that’s what miracle technology like this does. But since it’s always just going to be a pipe dream, what’s wrong with a person dreaming?)
And who doesn’t want to live more.