Do you ever wonder why we are here?

The Grim Reaper
Image by Helico via Flickr

So, Tom has been experiencing some strange pains in his neck and face — odd twitches and discomforts.  It has gone on  for a long enough period of time that he jokingly calls it his tumor.  But the truth is he is afraid.  We joke about it, then we get serious and a little scared, and then we forget it about it again for a while, until something in that same region hurts and then it starts all over again.  But the truth is …

… every person has to accept that one day they will die.

Even this week Tom was having little shooting pains on the “tumor” side of his face as he was preparing to leave for a trip.  Last night he said to me that we should “up his life insurance policy.”  WTF? I do not like when he talks like that.  But it shows the extent to which he is worried.  Me being me, I said:  “If the life insurance policy isn’t high enough then let’s get that fixed!”   I tend to kick into Problem Solver when the topic is too difficult.  Of course we’ve also had the “Call the doctor if you are so worried” conversation many times.  And he has an appointment for when he gets back.

Most people, including Tom and I, live like we have another fifty years at least.  It could be tomorrow that the grim reaper comes.  We don’t know.   And that got me thinking.

What do we hope people will remember about our life?  What legacy will you leave?

I just had an interesting conversation with a 22-year-old about identity, self-esteem, and  why we are here (on the planet.)  I mostly listened to the angst.  (Sometimes it is so nice to be 44. I would not go back to my twenties, no never.)

But it was hard to restrain myself from suggesting that the  hipster clothes, beauty or good looks, fitness, higher degrees, “significant” job and especially, the idealistic ideas debated with friends late at night over cigarettes and coffee — none of that matters ultimately if you hate yourself

And, even if you are able to find a look that’s “you” and get through college and get the coolest job of your dreams, even if you accomplish it all — you will still be — you.  You cannot imagine that when you’re young.  But it is so true.  All that stuff is empty unless you are grounded in something.

I think what matters is this:

Do we love?  Do we (actually and genuinely) care about others?  I believe it is how we treat people, no matter who it is, that is the final measure of a person.  By offering back to others the dignity of love and acceptance, well in my opinion that is a life well spent.  Bertrand Russel said “To a modern mind, it is difficult to feel enthusiastic about a virtuous life if nothing is going to be achieved by it.”  I understand thinking like that but I completely disagree.

It was Gandhi, the great activist and spiritual leader who said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” This makes me so sad.

This is what keeps my young friend away from faith of any kind: Religion. Religious people. Christians.

And yet, the Jesus I know said you should love God with everything in your heart, soul and mind AND you should love others as yourself.

He said others will know we’re followers of Jesus by our love.

He said if you have an enemy you should do good for them or to them — expecting nothing in return.

Sadly, this is not what my young friend sees in the lives of what she calls “religious” people. I asked her rather to look at the life of Jesus himself, his teachings in the Bible and to decide for herself.

Be well friends.

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