“I’m alive, which is better than the alternative,” a new patient once told me when I asked him how he was. The alternative to being alive, we are to assume, is death; being alive is better than being dead.
This certainly wasn’t the first time I had heard someone reply this way, but it was the first time I considered it as more than a mere cliché. What if there was another alternative, a better alternative? Was I misinterpreting the man? Perhaps he was telling me a great deal more than I realized.
He was really saying, “I’m alive, but I could be thriving.”