In the midst of life we are in death
Introduction to my post on the paradox of life and death
I wanted to share with you my very personal thoughts regarding how each of us takes for granted that our lives hang by a slender thread. You could say each of us literally walk hand in hand with death. This may sound a peculiar comment to come out with. I would fully understand that. Equally important which should not be forgotten is the old biblical saying roughly paraphrased as "we are born into this world with nothing, and we leave this world with nothing." I have realised just much our lives hang by a thread as the saying goes. I feel as an author of fiction that I have a duty of care to my readers to be transparent and honest with respect to the serious social and economic issues which confront each and everyone of us. This post from my perspective has to be about stating unpalatable home truths respecting what we as human beings valuable most in our daily lives. This current part of the twenty first century is a stark reminder of the dangers of burying your my heads in the sand ostrich hoping that everything will turn out just fine. As the Australians say "No worries mate."
Important issue which needs raising
I read the notice at the beginning of nook boards mentioning the security breach, where individuals have been hacking in to other members personal details. It is as serious as it gets when this happens. Trust has been broken when individuals maliciously steal others personal information. These individuals or groups who operate in this way have no respect or integrity for those who use the boards to post information about their various literary projects. When you think about it all of you, it is so important to be respectful of each others' privacy and as far as I am concerned that is at the heart of all human relationships. Do you know I fully agree with the site moderator that we including myself must be ever vigilant when using social media sites such as Nook Boards. There is absolutely no merit in being abusive towards others by behaving like this.
The hackers need to learn if necessary through international law enforcement that we the vast majority of responsible users, who get value and deep satisfaction from their contributions to the likes of Nook should not feel anxious or intimdated due to the selfish actions of others. I very much hope who ever engaged in these actions are prosecuted.
Interesting Dilemmas to chew over
Now my friends let me run a current example regarding how tenous our individual hold is over daily life. I am sure you have read about or seen on the TV various deeply distressing news items depicting cases where members of our human family have died in a variety of gruesome circumstances. What about the 25 passengers on two Italian high speed trains which collided together killing on a remote stretch of line in the Italian countryside. I bet that when all those passengers climbed aboard those 2 trains at the start of their journeys, none of them had the macabre thought that "Oh my God I am so not going to make it and I will die a really horrible death, with my body literally being torn apart and shattered like a doll. All due to the high speed impact of the 2 trains coming together at that fatal juncture.
I mean really sweetpeas, isn't that an example to you and I of just how fragile our lives actually are? I know you may think this author guy is being a touch dramatic uh?
Well, no I'm not. Let me give you another example of how brief life can be. I love pumping the iron in the gym, as you do! In fact I was surfing the net about 2 weeks back when I came across a little news item on one of the bodybuilding social media sites. It mentioned a death of a nineteen year old wait for it, 7' 2" tall young adult male who died of a torn aortic vein due I'm very sorry to say due to taking anabolic steroids. To my surprise he had a very medieval oval shaped face, with a medieval style of haircut, I suppose you could call it "bobbed". He had a pale wistful looking expression. Originally from Eastern Europe. But that aside, what really got me was the description that this young handsome guy had died due to training twice a day. He died at such a young age in my country of England due to severe steroid abuse.
How do you square that with the deaths of 11 people who were killed on a stretch of motorway in England about 12 months ago by a vintage 1950's jet plane taking part in a local airshow that crashed directly onto them? Was there as the law says "malice aforethought?"
Though since the tragic accident of last summer allegations and rumours are now surfacing which seem to point in the direction of the pilot being aware of his actions which held him in part responsible for their deaths. There have been reported incidents in the international media over the last 2 or so years where people died due to mechanical failure of jet aircraft. Ostensibly due to lack of thorough regular maintenance by the airlines concerned. However though thoroughly reprehensible and unacceptable can you apportion blame on the grounds of deliberate malice? I would venture to cautiously suggest that there was no culpable intent to pass a passenger jet plane as fit for service just based on malicious intent alone.
Another curiousity to share with you my friends is a snippet of information within the vein of "in the midst of life we are in death" theme was a radio item I heard in the UK where I live concerning an academic who died just within the last week. He taught building construction at a regional UK University where earlier this week he was out on his bike in a country lane, when disaster struck. Basically, and this is going to sound very stereotypical, a young guy was being chased by the UK police and as a result, not surprisingly wanting to escape them, he at very high speed crossed over the double white line and collided with the cyclist. Sadly the cyclist died instantly aged 55. Lets say I am over the mid century mark myself, and found it particulary poignant that he was killed in the way he was. That could have been me or you. That just goes to show in stark terms just how the unexpected can be sprung unsuspectingly, at any time, any place anyway.
We are very fragile human beings are we not? At anytime any of us can be written out of the script, finding ourselves surplus to requirements. My philosphy is to live in the moment. I know it sounds like a tired out old cliche, which lets it face you must of heard many well meaning people attempt to tell you from their "unique set of lived experiences". Enough moralising on that one. Three other despicable acts of malicious cruel behaviour sadly involving falalities in both Orlando, Nice in France and Munich in Germany.
All of you reading my post on Nook Boards would join me in robustly condemning these disgusting atrocities. Those poor souls all they ever wanted to do was be with their loved ones, and friends. My take on that is that All life including animals have a right to life. Within the context of this author's post as an author I as I see it have a duty to raise these deep rooted issues in my case the post modernist context of my fictious journalist of daily life in an anrachist setting in the 2020's to 2030's. I have the perfect opportunity to weave in these themes on life and death as all my players in my journal set in London face these dilemmas of life and death, as part of their lived experience.
I need to temporarily digress from my previous section to raise with you what it means to have Downtime. As you my American readers are aware we all have to pay our way and offer our diverse gifts for the benefit of those who will be on the receiving end of our creative acts of inspiration. You and I know just how demanding life is today. The capitalist laissez faire system of relatively regulation light enforcement by both my government in the UK and yours in the States places a major emphasis on each of us to ensure that we earn enough money to maintain our health both mentally and physically. Inevitably this means having to make a complete commitment to our employers if we are tied to them or if you are self employed ensuring that we meet our clients demands for our services or goods. What does that mean in reality? Essentially it requires each of us to put aside so many hours out of the 24 hour day to that commitment, so that both yourself and myself feel we are appreciated and valued for the sacrifice we make. And as you well know this appreciation is currently remunerated in the form of an income.
Fine! But stand back for a brief moment, and push the stop button, and then ask yourself where do I stand on thinking about my needs and how I can take time out from the relentless pressures of the rat race. I work as a social worker in the UK, and for me what suits my lifestyle is to work as a temporary contractor on very good pay. That excellent income I earn is proportionate to the hours I put in. In fact for me I can manage bursts of activity for up to 12 months working 5 days a week, with brief breaks for holidays until I decide that I need a few months off from the supersonic fast lane of daily life.
Now I am going to say this to you who read my posts. On the subject of taking "downtime" I strangly recommend that you take time out to think about what that means to you. Taking time out requires planning and thought. Writing down what you would actually want to achieve from taking say 6 months out from the rat race. Let me give a couple of examples as suggestions regarding people I know in England where I live who are actively planning taking timeout from the conventional working treadmill of daily life. I worked last year for an English mental health trust in the North West of England. At my then workplace, a nice young community psychiatric nurse colleague decided along with her boyfriend that they both would benefit from taking time away from their busy full on lives and travel overseas for up to six months. My then former colleague's boyfriend decided to rent his home out prior to going abroad.
Their plan was to travel by bus through Turkey, Iran into India then on from there to Australia. However due to the serious political situation in those 2 initial countries mentioned, they decided to go to India. As far as I was aware prior to myself leaving the service team she belonged to at the time, other colleagues I knew who worked with her, found out by maintaining a text link with her that Rachel was thoroughly enjoying her break. The point I am making to all of you is most defintely not to be afraid to make that life changing commitment to go abroad or just travel in your own country. In Rachel's case, my former colleague had felt she was stuck in a proverbial rut. Her life was going nowhere, she was unhappy in her predictable life, and so was her boyfriend as well. The other case example was involving another close much younger friend than me who is planning to go off to South America for upwards of a year. He too in a different way to my friend is in a dead end with his work and life. A close friend of his is keen to make the trip to South America too. However, I have serious doubts he will ever go to South America in 2017. Basically he is in denial over his high levels of drinking, and drug taking. I really hope he achieves his dream, but he is not facing up to his own demons regarding his substance addiction.
Look seriously it is not a crime to admit that your life is lousy, boring, and soul destroying. That your life energy is seeping away and you feel trapped. At some stage in our lives we wonder if anybody frankly cares, or that we are left abandoned with our minds in constant state of seething anger and frustation. As a British guy can you do me a favour and try to ease up on yourself. You my dearly loved reader have really no need to prove or justify yourself to anybody unless you go out of your way to cause deliberate harm to others.
Why don't you sit down with a close friend or relative you really trust and do life planning review stretching over a 5 year period. Write down in 2 columns initially all your talents and accummulated knowledge. In the second column write down your current state of mental and physical health, like as we say in England an MOT or automobile fitness to operate test. Anything in your life requiring fixing prioritise over a period of time what urgently needs attention respect to your life. Now is the time to turn the page of your life book and strike out on your own. Go outside your comfort zone, if necessary leave your cozy reliable safe job, making sure however that you plan your change of life with meticulous care. Have a back up plan thought through carefully in the event that the unexpected happens, and you need and must be grounded as to what to do in the event that something happens which will knock all your plans off the game board.
Well how about it then? Without sounding paranoid, what if totally unexpected stuff happened to any of you reading my post? Say playing devil's advocate you lost all your money and possessions and went bankrupt. This event could be brought about by the malicious cruel actions of other people, how on earth would you cope? A good way of coping is to focus all your energies on thinking through all your options, maintaining calmness emotionally, clarity of purpose, and a strong self belief that whatever happens you will get through the calamity you are faced with. Make it your life's work to cultivate within your spirit a kind compassionate heart. Show no malice in your thoughts and deeds to anybody. "I am daily making myself what I am" to quote Robert Thurman a much revered Buddhist scholar from Columbia University, in your country of America. Frankly does it really matter what your ethnic origins are, of course not. In my eyes you have a wonderful precious gift of being able to really focus on who you really are. Acknowledge all thoughts you have fashioned about yourself - helpful and destructive. Do those thoughts still impact on you and pull you down? Are we not all made up of elaborate layers of masks - each mask representing a defense mechanism to protect our fragile ego within? What resonates so strongly with me and maybe you is that our lives are so very fragile.Any of us as I have said before can die at any time at any moment.
Remember the deaths in Italy, 260 plus dear souls no longer here, gone in an instant. Due yes to natural causes, not anything caused by them. They were caught up in the drama that ended their lives on Wednesday of last week. In England 4 young men died out at sea on the South coast of my country. If you had informed any of them that they would be dead a certain number of hours later, they would have looked at you as if you were mad.
A thought to chew over, get on with living your dream. Doubt not that it is unattainable. I live my reality daily, embracing what life offers me. Everyday in my daily meditations I pray for challenges be they seemingly good and life enhancing or difficult and complex. My firm view is that I make a point of showing thankfullness gratitude for whatever comes my way. To me it is a major goal to welcome on a daily basis whatever comes my way. I also contemplate and reflect in my prayers the importance of being congruent in my thoughts and behaviours so that I am authentic in all my human interactions. Like you my readers, I constantly have to work on this aspect of my all to frail human character. Knowing full well in my heart how the temptation of taking the easy route to salvation, I aware of my many inadequacies and failings can only wonder at how I achieve that state at all. I put it down to not beating myself up emotionally. not over analyzing my actions, or being to earnest. Just so long as I am not deliberatly being malicious in intent towards others. Can I ask, where do you stand on all this? Is it familiar what I have written here. Resonate on a deep level maybe?
I will leave it there for now, but I am mindful of the biblical quote which goes something like "we come into this world with nothing and leave it with nothing." This puts it all into perspective - not to be a prisoner of your possessions but to see them for what they are. I will leave the rest for you to mull over in your time.
Peace and joy
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