Embracing the power of the human experience

Read. Watch. Listen. introduces you the personal side of our faculty, staff and alumni. Participants are asked to answer three simple questions about their reading, viewing and listening habits – what one book or newspaper/magazine article is grabbing your attention; what one movie or television show has caught your eye; and what album/song, podcast or radio show are you lending an ear to.

Erica S. Lawson is Undergraduate Chair and an associate professor in the Department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research.

Today, she takes her turn on Read. Watch. Listen.

Read.

I remain haunted by a feature article on Dr. B.J. Miller, One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die from The New York Times Magazine, Jan. 3, 2017. Dr. Miller is a palliative care doctor at a small hospice in San Francisco. Here, he helps people to accept death as a part of life at a residential facility known as the Guest House at the Zen Hospice.

“Freed of most medical duties by the nursing staff, the volunteers act almost as existential nurses.”

The article chronicles the story of Sloan, a young man dying from cancer (mesothelioma) and Dr. Miller’s gentle efforts to help him let go of the language of “doing battle” with cancer, and “winning this thing” considering the inevitability of death.

I wept when I read this article. But I was left feeling hopeful, too, by its powerful commentary on life and death and the depth of the human experience.

Watch.

Mudbound (2017). I watched this movie on Netflix. It’s based on a book of the same name by American novelist Hillary Jordan and stars Mary J. Blige, among other notable actors. I didn’t know what to expect. But I love period dramas, so I was drawn in by the experiences of two soldiers – one black, one white – when they return to their small town after fighting in Second World War. Having no-one else to talk to about their experiences in the war and about post-traumatic stress disorder, the two develop a risky friendship in a tense racial atmosphere.

Listen.

Ahem … At the risk of giving the impression of a pattern here, I’ve been cranking up Monopoly on Sorrow by Suicidal Tendencies on drives from London to Toronto to visit family. Yes, I’m one of those people who will play a good song over and over and over.

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If you have a suggestion for someone you would like to see in Read. Watch. Listen., or would like to participate yourself, drop a line to inside.western@uwo.ca.