Life: The Search for Understanding

Wow, that title is imposing. Deep and a bit overwhelming, at least for me.

What is his thing called life? Whether it is meaning or understanding, the more I experience, the less life makes sense to me. Maybe it is the sense of fairness or lack of accountability I struggle for meaning. While I may not understand some aspects of life, I’m getting constantly schooled on it. Right now, as I am writing this, I’m sitting with someone who is literally fighting to stay alive. It’s scary, and unfair. If I could trade places, I would. Her life is so much more impactful than mine.

I never thought of myself as a person to comfort and coach someone needing this kind of support. Although I have compassion and empathy, connecting in such an intimate way as caregiver, with a handle on emotions, is not how I’m wired. Believe me, I’ll still try, it’s just not my forte. Everything I have, is channeled into supporting her to keep going, to beat this health setback. Her will is strong, and maybe with my encouragement, a miracle will happen.

At my advanced age, I am still trying to wrap my head around the complexities of life. Just live it. I wish it was that easy. I place a great deal of importance on understanding. Don’t be so serious. Well, I am. Why overthink everything? I no longer make a habit of this. Believe there is a reason, a purpose for things that happen, where I do not understand. I cannot do that.

Despite what we know and our beliefs, life still throws curveballs that I struggle to hit. I am not afraid to step up to the plate and dig in. To use the baseball analogy a bit more, it’s okay to fight through each pitch. Some will be fouled off, others out of the strike zone and we let those go. Not every pitch is hittable, and some will push us back on our heels. We may feel overmatched and get behind in the count. It comes down to strength against strength. And smarts. Even if we know the pitcher, we do not know what pitch will be thrown, the speed, location or other variables. Pitchers, like life, are crafty and throw unforeseen challenges and issues at us. One cannot prepare for everything or have experienced every possible dilemma, which means, we have to react and use our skills, experience and good sense. That still does not mean we will get a hit, only that we aren’t giving up without a fight.

In the time of a global pandemic, this virus has touched everyone in some way. When someone says, When things return to normal…, I remind them that the old normal will never exist. Once again, as if we need to be reminded, we are mortals that can be swept out of the universe in a nanosecond. While we are a threat to ourselves, nature has, with extreme prejudice, presented us with an ongoing challenge to our existence. We are smart, but not that smart, and this virus is finding ways to adapt and mutate. Organisms mutate for survival. As humans, we have mutated for greed and our own sense of power and self importance. Greed and hate are the worst human diseases. What is sad is how society rationalizes those traits as somehow being good, resourceful and even blessed.

Whether you believe in a supreme power, or figure we are on our own, we must realize that as much as we want to be in control of our lives, we are only partially steering the wheel. This is not a religious conversation of God’s will or free will, whether it is fate or a Divine hand, we humans do not control everything.

I reflect on when I first had to deal with death. I had two uncles that died, I did not know them well, but their wives, my aunts, were now widows and somehow there was something broken or not quite right. A few years later, both grandmothers died from cancer. I was a teenager then and looking back, I did not process it in a healthy manner. We did not talk about it. There was no role model on dealing with death; no guidance or support was available. That is probably why I tended to run from death.

Losing loved ones peels the protection from our heart. We have to learn to still breathe while we hurt. The hardest deaths are those of children. I cannot fathom dealing with that loss. I know people who have gone through that twice. My heart aches just thinking about it. Explain why those young lives were taken.

What I do know is that life can disappear in a flash. The person I was sitting with in the hospital, has died. No miracle. I don’t know if she heard me or if my time with her helped. I want to believe it did, but she still died. How can that be? She had the best care available, prayers and the love of those who know her. That wasn’t enough. I tell myself that she was an angel and was sent to her next destination to spread kindness and love. I tell myself that often.

Why do bad things happen to good people, and why do many bad people get a pass? What’s the answer? I would rant to the sky, but dogs would bark and my neighbors would complain.

How do we explain to kids that life is often unfair? How do we even explain that to ourselves?

Maybe we need the perspective of the good that comes our way, and the light that replaces the darkness. We all have different things to be thankful. I will continue to search for answers to confounding questions, but I cannot live life hanging in the balance, or depending on balance. I will create my own light and freely share it as kindness and compassion. While I do not look to control everything in life, I will not stop seeking, or refrain from practicing the gifts I have learned from others. Love shines brightest when it is passed from one soul to another. That much I understand.

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