Thursday, January 13, 2011

My search for meaning

We are born naked and helpless.  We survive only because of nurturing parents and a loving family who guide us till we are ready to begin our own journey.  Recently a heart attack taught me that when we die, it is the same...only we are fully aware of our predicament. 

Two years ago, I sat calmly reading the paper when the deep heavy pains in my chest took me to the ER. Naked and helpless on the operating table, I could only lay and watch as doctors and nurses saved my life.  I am still amazed at how these strangers fought for my life encouraging, beckoning me to live.  Why did I survive and not die?

 It is so easy to offer simplistic answers.  Religion is full of them. but, what is life?

As we grow our family nurtures us and loves us.  They provide the foundations of our belief systems and instill in us the values that we carry thru life. The religion of my youth provided me the answers that satisfied my mind. Yet as I grew, I found it provided more questions than answers.  Leaving organized religion behind I became a searcher, striving to live a life of value and worth. This provided comfort to me until the the heart attack again opened the question.

Now I ponder daily the meaning of life and ask what is lifes value.  What does our existence mean?

On the operating table, I had brief glimpses of eternity.  Were these real, or, anesthesia induced dreams? More questions.  Is there life after death?  In these glimpses/dreams, I saw and conversed with my parents, grandparents and old friends who passed before me. I can not explain the calm and love I felt. At some point I felt it was time to come back... or did I just wake up.  No disrespect to my family and friends who are believers...but, organized religions simplistic answers to my queries just do not work for me.

Through life, strangers influence and move us.  Sometimes they are the flicker of a candle in our life.  Other times, they become a part of our family, enriching us till we die. Jordan, one of the nurses at the hospital, came into my life for a brief moment yet saved my life.  Our interactions were brief, perhaps a few hours over a period of three months.  Yet, it seemed that whenever there was a moment of extreme despair...from the operating room to the painful difficult cardiac rehab that followed, she would appear out of nowhere. A caring look or the firm but gentle squeeze of a hand would raise my spirits and give me strength to continue.  What is it in life that makes total strangers instant friends?

I have been told that life is a circle.  John Lennon said in the end the love you take is equal to the love you gave. I have seen and felt the love many have given me. 

Of one thing I am certain, at the end of your life, though naked, helpless and surronded by strangers; love is there and goes with you.