It’s precious and consistently unpredictable. Many would say horribly unfair. Certainly fragile, miraculous even. It’s hard to argue the idea put out three by James Taylor (The Secret Of Life) that we’re all only here for the ride. Like it or not, we humans have absolutely no control over the beginning or ending of existence.
Whether you live a charmed life or somewhat less than that, realize that when it comes right down to it, you will not give up your life easily, willingly.
You may think you will. Be certain of it. Living wills and advanced directives are all about that. So is medicine and taking care of yourself, as you attempt to lengthen (or improve the quality of) the number of days you get to walk this earth.
We do these things with the best, truest of intentions. Not to prolong life that is more existence than living. Not to be a burden to family or medicine. To live our days in the best physical and mental state possible. We put these measures in place, fight aging and disease with passion and persistence while reality sits off in a distant, misty future, nowhere near us.
Until the day your life is well and truly threatened. Then all bets are off. Hearing that the end of life is now a very distinct possibility changes everything. No matter what we thought before, in those frantic, awful moments we want only to live, to continue to breathe no matter the quality of our existence. Living is everything then; worth any suffering, any cost.
It’s all that matters.
The fight for life is desperate, irrational and very likely a part of every cell in these amazing bodies of ours. Even near the end of life there must be some part somewhere deep down that embraces living. That fights to hang on. It seems the will to live is strong, primal, impossible to put aside. It’s kept our species going even as the ending of life consumes us, haunts us, terrifies us.
Does life go on? We hope it does, want desperately to believe it does. Organized religion tells us that it does, but no one knows this for a certainty. The answer eludes the living, which makes facing the end of living (and the unknown) that much harder. Like old age, dying is not for sissies.
Bearing witness isn’t either.