Many items in our homes—appliances, automobiles, toys, structures, systems, furniture— may be poised at the edge of a sudden breakdown. Rust grows and corrodes; tiny internal parts fracture; elements burn out or mysterious materials stop working. In many cases, we have no warning about an impending breakdown, and so are surprised when a fuel pump stops working, a pipe bursts, a roof leaks or a groundhog trashes our garden!
The same phenomenon may be true of our bodies. Arteries harden slowly, organs weaken unperceptively, memories quietly dribble out of our brains. And at some moment—most likely in our later years—some part of our body stops working, perhaps suddenly. A major fall, stroke, aneurism, heart attack, blood clot, massive infection or organ failure. Yes, the warning signs may have been there, but they were hard to see clearly.
How are we supposed to think about these matters? Realistically, emotionally, spiritually. Fearful inactivity won’t work—turns out that sitting is more life-diminishing than smoking. Too-frequent visits to specialists will run our medical costs into the ground and our doctors running in the opposite direction. On the other hand, denying that we are mortal—vulnerable to the wearings-and-tearings of daily life—isn’t a wise choice, either.
My choice has been to live fully—“Happy to be alive!” is how I’ve described it elsewhere—and to grasp fully the possibilities of any day, any event, any relationship. Even as I realize how my genetic legacy might predispose me to thus-and-so—I also know how slow, deliberate self-care can help forestall some inevitabilities. I will not live fearfully or ignorantly.
What keeps me going: Knowing that I don’t have to fear death at all! Knowing there’s work to be done. Knowing that I am loved and forgiven.
Knowing that I’m NOT God…!