Thoughts on the Ice Bucket Challenge

Category: Thoughts from the Void

Cropped photo from lissame via photopin cc.

So I, like all of you too probably, was talking Ice Bucket Challenge with some friends recently. It was the usual blah-blah until a woman in our group stood up and walked away saying “That just seems pointless to me. I lost my best friend to that disease and my awareness doesn’t need proving. If anyone nominates me I’ll write a check and be done with it.”

Now, normally this woman is the very best of the good sports. She is the kind of person that the German phrase “mit Ihr kannst du Pferde stehlen” (“with her you can steal horses” = she’s always up for an adventure) was written to describe. Maybe this caught her on a bad day. In any case, I was surprised by her reaction and I didn’t really know what to say. I understood her stance to be that her level of “awareness” by way of losing her best friend excuses her from playing along. Just write a check - Done!

That Got Me Thinking

For me, a bucket of ice water over my head is not about proving my awareness, it is about being uncomfortable for someone else. It’s about struggling in advance with a situation that I know is coming, a situation that I would really love to avoid.

It is about facing up to dread.

That bucket of ice water is metaphoric for the struggle with catastrophic illness. Dumping it voluntarily over my head is an act of solidarity with other humans who have a diagnosis and know, well in advance the horrifying details of their future lives and their own deaths. For them, anger, panic, fear, sadness will ensue - if not today, then next week, next month. A person can struggle all they like, they can walk around it, ignore it, walk away from it - but there IS no escape. That body IS their future.

That bucket of water in my hand acknowledges an important truth: There, but for the Grace of God, go I.

Don’t you, don’t we all know someone who’d be totally relieved to write a check if by doing so they could avoid the utter terror of being the noble reason the rest of us get together to have a few beers, laugh and challenge one another to do stupid things like dumping ice water over our heads? I think we do.

Thoughts From Beyond the Void?

My friend and fellow writer Pia Newman had this to say about the responses she received when she posted her Ice Bucket Challenge.

Did you write about the ice bucket challenge and it’s inherent challenges? Leave a comment below and I’ll put a link to your article up here.