I was 6 years old, and my cat had just died. My parents sat my sister and I down and tried to explain death the best they could to us, knowing we’d be heartbroken over the loss of our beloved buddy. Two adults, staring down at two tearful little girls. Everyone wishing there was something that would make us feel better. Perhaps some magic gem that would lift the mood and we would all know in our hearts that Fluffy was in a better place. My dad, searching for the right words to explain what is often the unexplainable, said to my sister and me, “you start dying from the day you are born.” (Long pause, wide-eyed stares in my mom’s direction.) I’m sure in his head that sounded a lot better than when he said it out loud, but as a kid, that was a lot to take in. I was having trouble understanding my cat’s death, let alone contemplating my own mortality. And I am guessing once he caught the look of horror from my mom, my dad was also immediately contemplating his mortality! Of course, as we got older, this became more of a family tagline and the butt of many jokes – I mean, who says that to little kids? It wasn’t comforting then, and I suppose it’s not a warm and fuzzy thought right now either. But as an adult, looking back, I can appreciate my dad’s honesty; blunt, but true.
So often in the face of tragedy and death, we look for clichés that will make us feel better. Something to make a situation less awkward, or even better,to make us all seem really wise and all knowing;
– God has a plan for this,
– It was her time,
– God needed him more than we did…
These are all phrases that run rampant in times of sadness and tragedy, and it’s also complete bullshit made up by someone on the fly, to give an explanation for something that no one could explain. Someone else heard it, and thought, well – better than nothing, and it got repeated over and over. At some point it got immortalized by Hallmark, and now it’s a commonly accepted explanation. My problem with these, (and others not mentioned) is that, while these are intended to comfort someone, they essentially place the blame for death and tragedy on God, and that seems pretty unfair to me. I am wondering if God had a chance to weigh in on this topic, if he wouldn’t just sit us down, look us in the eyes and tell it like it is: listen, you start dying from the day you are born.
Really,… it all boils down to free will. We either have it, or we don’t. It can’t be both ways;
– Free will when we want to make our own choices,
– But not when it’s painful, or too difficult.
So then it’s all either fate or chance then? No,…I’d say it’s free will all the time. We all make choices, some are better than others, some are mundane and routine, some are reckless, some are careful and pointed, but all have the potential to put us in the wrong place at the wrong time, no matter how calculated we try to be. Bad things will happen, disasters will occur, people will go crazy, and occasionally a bear will get loose from the zoo. The point is we have to just make the best of the time we have, and hope that our loved ones do too. Instead of being afraid of free will and timidly hoping that life just works out, grab it and ravish it like it’s the last candybar in the snack drawer! To ignore it, is to bury a winning lottery ticket. It’s a chance! It’s an opportunity; to be something great, to conquer your fears, to take control of what’s in front of you and change the course of your life forever, because we don’t have forever.
It’s time to make changes. It’s time to be the driving force in your own life. The risk of course, will be having no one else to blame if at some point you give up. The reward will be a life filled with passion, joy, and people who empower you. I encourage you to give my dad’s wisdom some thought, let that thought affect your decisions, so that when the time does come – no trifle explanation will be needed, no conflict of emotion, just a simple acknowledgement that you grabbed life and lived it like you were dying from the day you were born.
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Chrissy Jacobs: email@example.com
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