It would be tremendously insightful to see what candidates are made of in their last confrontation with their own selves when there is no more planning or scheming that could happen or that would matter
“On your deathbed, you have about 30 seconds to have an honest look at your entire life. What would you want edited out of it?”
That is the question I would ask of any of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates in a forum or interview where they can appear individually or together. That idea formed in my head, prompted by an “accidental” study which made the recent headlines in science news.
In the study, doctors were doing a regular monitoring of an 87-year-old epileptic patient through electroencephalography (EEG) – a tool that records brain waves to detect and treat seizures – when the patient had a heart attack and died.
What they found was that the pattern of brainwaves recorded 30 seconds before and after his heart stopped beating resembled the patterns seen in our brains when we are engaged in “high-cognitive functions, such as concentrating, dreaming, meditation, memory retrieval, information processing , and conscious perception, just like those associated with memory flashbacks.” This naturally resonated with the widely-known phenomenon called “life flashing before your eyes” and provided a case that could start to establish the neurological basis for what we are faced with just before we die.
The study is just one case and the scientists caution us about being definitive about what really happens in the last few seconds before and after your heart gives you its last strength. But anything that happens to life just before it ends is something that fascinates all of us simply because after this life, is the vast unknown – so unknown that defining, describing, and even laying claim to it, has been fair game to all religions, philosophies, quackery and scams for all of human history.
But while we can all argue on what the afterlife is, we can all agree that all of life is memory-making so it is the “remembering” that distills its worth for us. That is why memory loss is so deeply agonizing for us to witness for ourselves if it happens to us or to our loved ones.
But “memory” is never a reel of facts. “Memory” is not what happened to you but how you made sense of what happened to you. It is the story that you yourself wove as you lived with yourself because of your honesty and also, despite your own lies. That is why, as the hypothetical interviewer, I would want to take advantage of what is so generously available to the living – time travel in our heads.
In that time travel, I want to jump to that last few points in any of the candidates’ life’s timeline and hear NOT what they want included in that final video (because that will be predictable and not reveal any deep insight) but what they want edited out. If you are the candidate viewing your life flashing before your eyes in your last moments, then you are stripped of all “external” support for any lies you may have surrounded yourself with, your entire life. That naked honesty may be the only “video treatment” available to you in those last moments. And more, you are also the lone captive audience of the movie in your mind. So what you will edit out of that final 30-second reel, which we can check against facts, will be extremely revealing about who you are. I think what they do not want to confront in the final summary of their lives will speak so eloquently of how much any of the candidates are willing to deceive their own selves.
Candidate, what will you edit out?
Will it be a segment when someone disagreed with and you squashed their spirits and took their lives? Will it be that one when you were hurriedly driven out of power because of abuses and you still had the acute sense to take the nation’s treasures with you as if it were your own “Go-Bag”? Or will it be that segment when you raised kids to be just like you?
I will not ask them about what they want in their final video because that is just like asking them about their platforms. Not because platforms are not important but because platforms are about the future which could always be hijacked by placeholders called “promises” – that became extremely vulnerable to decay called “excuses” formed by the passage of time.
It would be tremendously insightful to see what these candidates are made of in their last confrontation with their own selves when there is no more planning or scheming that could happen or that would matter. What actual fact and segment of history would they NOT want included in their final video of their minds and why?
Among all the candidates – who among them do you think will need massive editing of their final video in their minds so they can cross, at peace with themselves, to the unknown? – Rappler.com
Maria Isabel Garcia is a science writer. She has written two books, “Science Solitaire” and “Twenty One Grams of Spirit and Seven Ounces of Desire.” You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.