HIV: ON LIVING-TAKING CONTROL: FIND COMFORTS AND INTERESTS IN THINGS OUTSIDE YOURSELF

“Don’t lock yourself in,” says Steven, “get yourself out.” The world is full of pleasures, beauties, people to get to know, wrongs that need to be righted, jobs that need to be done, places to visit, adventures to be had. People find, in things outside themselves, anything from a trivial and
momentary distraction to a profound interest in living. The possibilities are limitless.
Some people make their surroundings beautiful and comforting. Helen says she tries to make the place where she spends her time a space she enjoys: “I like brass and glass. I like
plants—they’re another life. I like a little elegance. Things should be as fine as they can be.” Alan repainted his house: “I’ve made it warm, restful, and interesting with colors. These colors reflect a color of light that looks good on people. People look wonderful in my house. My own house is a comfort to me.”
Some people find things they like to do, or things they have always wanted to do but have never done. Helen gardens: “I crave being out there. I put all these bulbs in, and now I have next year to look forward to. Plus I also have a room I want to redecorate.” Steven’s cousin, whom he says is like a sister to him, moved in with him. They enjoy doing the same things, Steven says: “While I’m feeling reasonably well, we’ll do what we like doing—we go to museums, we play music together. We’ll just enjoy the things that give us pleasure.” Dean had always loved both music and teaching: “I’ve always been a closet teacher, and now I direct music full time. Being sick also gives me time to do what I want.”
Some people teach themselves new things because learning, they say, takes them out of themselves. Dean became interested in archaeology and astronomy: “Maybe, in the light of ancient history and the immense universe,” he says, “my disability insurance isn’t all that important. I wonder why people worry about things that don’t matter all that much.”
Some people spend more time with people they love and enjoy: “Before my husband died,” said Lisa, “we concentrated on putting lots of importance on kids and grandkids. You can get so busy with run-of-the-mill stuff, you don’t get around to it. My husband went on a fishing trip with his son. He went to visit our granddaughter at kindergarten. He listened to his grandson’s first piano piece.”
Some people become activists. June runs an AIDS-advocacy agency; she says she throws herself into work. “I feel that it helps to help,” she says, “to do something.” Lisa was going to run for city council, but decided instead that she could do more putting out a newsletter, so she raised money and started one: “I think you should speak up, be visible, be yourself.” Steven began doing public speaking and recommends it to others: “Get interested in legislation,” he said, “in outreach; contact speakers’ bureaus, call people up. I’ve gone from being a passive type to being a real civil disobedient type.” Dean is writing a book about his experiences with AIDS, and says the book gives him a positive attitude: “It’s leaving my mark. It’s doing what will help other people.”
Some people help others in different ways. Many become buddies or carepartners through AIDS-advocacy programs. Dean volunteered in a hospital on a floor for children with cancer. “It was hard on me to see those kids so sick,” he said, “but it put things in perspective for me. I thought, ‘Who am I to complain? They’re so good and so happy. I’ve had forty good years. How can I complain?’ ” Helen is less ambitious but no less helpful: “I visit the woman who used to be my roommate in the hospital. She won’t eat anything. I make her get out of bed, sit in a chair, go for a walk; I give her my jellybeans. I talk to her. It makes me feel good.”
*246\191\2*

HIV: ON LIVING-TAKING CONTROL: FIND COMFORTS AND INTERESTS IN THINGS OUTSIDE YOURSELF”Don’t lock yourself in,” says Steven, “get yourself out.” The world is full of pleasures, beauties, people to get to know, wrongs that need to be righted, jobs that need to be done, places to visit, adventures to be had. People find, in things outside themselves, anything from a trivial and momentary distraction to a profound interest in living. The possibilities are limitless.     Some people make their surroundings beautiful and comforting. Helen says she tries to make the place where she spends her time a space she enjoys: “I like brass and glass. I like plants—they’re another life. I like a little elegance. Things should be as fine as they can be.” Alan repainted his house: “I’ve made it warm, restful, and interesting with colors. These colors reflect a color of light that looks good on people. People look wonderful in my house. My own house is a comfort to me.”     Some people find things they like to do, or things they have always wanted to do but have never done. Helen gardens: “I crave being out there. I put all these bulbs in, and now I have next year to look forward to. Plus I also have a room I want to redecorate.” Steven’s cousin, whom he says is like a sister to him, moved in with him. They enjoy doing the same things, Steven says: “While I’m feeling reasonably well, we’ll do what we like doing—we go to museums, we play music together. We’ll just enjoy the things that give us pleasure.” Dean had always loved both music and teaching: “I’ve always been a closet teacher, and now I direct music full time. Being sick also gives me time to do what I want.”     Some people teach themselves new things because learning, they say, takes them out of themselves. Dean became interested in archaeology and astronomy: “Maybe, in the light of ancient history and the immense universe,” he says, “my disability insurance isn’t all that important. I wonder why people worry about things that don’t matter all that much.”     Some people spend more time with people they love and enjoy: “Before my husband died,” said Lisa, “we concentrated on putting lots of importance on kids and grandkids. You can get so busy with run-of-the-mill stuff, you don’t get around to it. My husband went on a fishing trip with his son. He went to visit our granddaughter at kindergarten. He listened to his grandson’s first piano piece.”     Some people become activists. June runs an AIDS-advocacy agency; she says she throws herself into work. “I feel that it helps to help,” she says, “to do something.” Lisa was going to run for city council, but decided instead that she could do more putting out a newsletter, so she raised money and started one: “I think you should speak up, be visible, be yourself.” Steven began doing public speaking and recommends it to others: “Get interested in legislation,” he said, “in outreach; contact speakers’ bureaus, call people up. I’ve gone from being a passive type to being a real civil disobedient type.” Dean is writing a book about his experiences with AIDS, and says the book gives him a positive attitude: “It’s leaving my mark. It’s doing what will help other people.”     Some people help others in different ways. Many become buddies or carepartners through AIDS-advocacy programs. Dean volunteered in a hospital on a floor for children with cancer. “It was hard on me to see those kids so sick,” he said, “but it put things in perspective for me. I thought, ‘Who am I to complain? They’re so good and so happy. I’ve had forty good years. How can I complain?’ ” Helen is less ambitious but no less helpful: “I visit the woman who used to be my roommate in the hospital. She won’t eat anything. I make her get out of bed, sit in a chair, go for a walk; I give her my jellybeans. I talk to her. It makes me feel good.”*246\191\2*

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