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Afterthoughts and foresight

Digging through boxes of bygone beliefs and brooding about the burgeoning of bioethics

By Leigh E. Rich

I recently unearthed a box long lost in the back of my closet, a box that has travelled with me across several states and too many years. I don’t think of myself as a pack rat by any standard (in fact, I hate “stuff” and have worked hard among those in my social circle to end compelled gift-giving), but I have kept copies of articles that have shaped my way of thinking, clips from a cherished if not fully realized stint as a “newspaperman,” papers from college, and personal writing: letters, sporadic journal entries, half-started plays and other narratives.

Sitting on the floor of my guest room-turned-home office, propped against the closet door frame that divides the secret and the known, the archaeology was bittersweet. The papers seemed to multiply as I pulled one after the other out of their resting place; some were fused together, and tacky letters complained with a rat-a-tat-tat as they fought to remain with their original sentences or desert to the other side. Each revealed parts of my past as well as paths not taken and thus futures unknown. Letters from lovers, some forgotten, some too difficult to be remembered, captured moments of longing but were silent as to endings. Course term papers presented youthful thought, buoyant about topics but often naïve in argument and construction—a static warning that I likely lack proper perspective and skill with current writing, too. And then there were the random jottings of ideas, good but not acted upon, some other interest or daily duty intervening and relegating them to a kernel state.

This parade of papers documented what I once thought and who I once was, a mix of aspects I am both glad to have grown beyond and sad to have lost. I tried not to linger in the threshold between youth and whatever lies beyond—although I have found as of late a tug to look back as I look ahead—for there was a specific purpose to this exercise in nostalgia. I was on the hunt for a letter of intent I once wrote as part of a college application. [continued …]

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Rich, Leigh E. 2016. Afterthoughts and foresight: Digging through boxes of bygone beliefs and brooding about the burgeoning of bioethics. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 13(2): 167–171.

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