Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Taking time to ask the questions

I have wondered if other people, like myself, have nearly died and not realized it until later. I’m not talking about the close call in a crosswalk, where we barely catch the blur of a car running a stop light as our foot leaves the curb. In that example, there’s at least a nanosecond in which we’re acutely aware of what two tons of rolling steel and glass could do to our body. Instead, I’m thinking of the banal: how we may have smoked or drank or eaten too much, or—truer to my situation—worked too hard and filled life with so much activity that we never thought to reflect on who we are and what life is all about. That’s death too: a not knowing yourself. It’s a common affliction that often goes undiagnosed.

I don’t see much difference between a heart attack, a descent into clinical depression or a drug overdose—events that may not kill but which confront us with the reality of our mortality—and a life so full of work and meaningless distractions that we die inside and don’t feel the hollowing out. Experience tells us that a person can appear to be alive and yet be dead. A medical emergency has the capacity to at least bring some clarity to our lives. When you can’t hear the beating of your heart for the hum inside your head, you’re in the land of the walking dead and, chances are, you don’t even know it. I’ve been there. Having escaped, I can say with some authority that I’d rather be dealing with the corruption of the body than that of the spirit.

I’ve done enough soul searching in the last four years to know that life in what some call the slow lane can be pretty sweet. Having been healed of chronic busyness, I’ve had time to make an internal exploration. More amazing than actually finding my soul has been the process of rummaging through it. That’s brought me both joy and sorrow, as I’ve shared in previous posts. Having nearly died when I was younger, I'm now better equipped to live more fully. I don’t have all the answers to the mysteries of life, but I’m working on a few. The miracle is that it occurred to me to even ask the questions.

3 comments:

Steve said...

We should all retire at 35 so as not to waste the rest of our lives busily working for a living...

Peter Ogle said...

Perhaps I've given the wrong impression. I'm on the board of two nonprofits and expect to teach part-time again next year at the university. I'm a deacon at my church and participate in several of its ministries. My time is more directed at service than employment at present.

Bev said...

I too am trying to reflect on who I really am and what living really is (or is not.) Thank you for your very thought provoking posts. They give me glimmers of truth and insight.