Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why Live?

UU Salon's question of the month is Why Live?

This is one of those deep existential questions, along with "Why are we here?" that I always kind of scoff at, because it doesn't have a clear answer. I also have dealt with my own and others' severe depression, both organic and situational, which puts this question into stark relief.

There are a lot of facets to this question - biological, existential, purpose, and more.

In working with ill and dying people this summer, I saw that we live out of a biological need to exist. There are those who are clear about how far they want technology to extend this biological imperative. Some want a no-holds-barred, claws dug in, approach to sustaining life. Others define life by function and ability. Living while hooked up to tubes and medicines is not how they would define "life," so it's about quality. So they live for that quality - the time they can enjoy with family and friends, doing things they love. Others live because they are afraid of what's on the other side.

For me, I think I live because, as I have been described several times now, I am a force of nature. I am a more diplomatic force of nature than I was 20 years ago, but still, I can be a sort of forceful tide, that is impelled towards my call, and pulls people along in my wake. I never thought much about my own life force until this summer. I like what Rachel Naomi Remen says in Kitchen Table Wisdom. She says that life is not fragile, but rather impermanent. At times during CPE, I thought that life was fragile, when I considered my own mortality, but I think that Remen is right. Our bodies try to live within their abilities; they are not fragile, but they can only withstand so much abuse from the world we have created.

So I live because my biology compels me to. As I get older, I continue to be in tune with my own physical processes. My ebbing fertility makes me want more children before it's too late. My shifting weight and strength makes me aware of the need to exercise and care for the temple my consciousness resides in. My spiritual awareness grows and accepts the known and unknown that lay before me.

I live because I have overcome great emotional and spiritual pain. I feel called to use those experiences to serve my greater community of fellow humans and the universe. We all have forks in the road, but I have never felt that the choice to not serve was an option. That fork was short and dark. Every step, every job, every choice, has been a step on the road to acknowledging the call to serve. Looking back, it's amazing to me that it took me so long to become aware of it. I don't believe in predestination, except in my most superstitious moments, but I do feel that I have been imbued with purpose, perhaps accidentally.

I don't know why I live, in the existential sense. I am not a theist, but I am religious. I sense that there is more to this life than we know and I have experienced the deep and unseen connections that bind us to each other and to the cosmos. As a humanist, I feel a responsibility to live in a certain way, and in a certain type of relationship to everything that my life touches.

I live because I am called to live; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I hope that when it is time for my physical body to let go, that I will be ready to embrace whatever comes next.

1 comment:

ms. kitty said...

I like this, Kelly, thanks.