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Tue., Jan. 17, 2012, 12:18 p.m.

Metaphor: Staying with the ship

The outrage toward the captain of the doomed Italian cruise ship seems mostly centered on the fact he abandoned the ship before everyone else was safe.

"Staying with the ship" is such a good metaphor for one of our greatest challenges in life, staying when all instincts are to jump out of commitments. Leaving marriages during rough times, abandoning aging parents and troubled teens, leaving a good job just because a workplace has hit upon some temporary bad times, killing yourself when life seems untenable.

The easiest thing in times of stress and terror seems to be jumping ship, even if the action will have bad consequences for others.

But deep down, we all must know that staying with the ship, if it is a primary responsibility, saves others and ultimately, our own sanity and well-being at the end of our lives.

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Spokesman-Review features writer Rebecca Nappi, along with writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., discuss here issues facing aging boomers, seniors and those experiencing serious illness, dying, death and other forms of loss.