I am going to hold a pistol to the head of the Modern Man. But I shall not use it to kill him–only to bring him to life.Innocent Smith in Manalive, GK Chesterton
The priest at Mass the other day posed the question: if it was possible to know, would you want to know when you would die?
As a melancholic, death is never too far from my mind and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While I don’t have strong feelings about the question one way or the other, I was thinking of some of the benefits of knowing when I would die, even if there is wisdom in not knowing. Sometimes, when death is clearly imminent, it compels us to truly embrace living. When our time is definitively short, we can move from passive existence to passionately experiencing life.
Is that type of wholehearted living reserved only for those who know death is at their door? Could I do that now? If people are able to live more when death comes close, could we just do now what we would do if we knew?
It made me consider how I would change my life if I knew the times of other events. Besides death, there are many other things that seem to be unknown yet shape how I live. For example, if I knew within the next year I would meet someone I would marry, would it change how I live? I believed that I would. What if it was five years, would that change how I live now? Yes, it would. What if I knew I would never get married? Again, yes.
And then I asked myself an important question: why?
Continue reading “Only to bring him to life”
I missed a plane and then had an extended lay-over due to a late arriving aircraft. I nervously tried to figure out how to turn the headlights on in a new car for which I had just refused all extra insurance. In the dark, I navigated along the fast-paced 405 and I-5, following a GPS that was guiding me to a place I had never been. I circled the hotel to find where I was supposed to park. Stupidly, I had to ask the hotel clerk if he knew the make of a Sentra. I later realized Nissan was clearly written on the key I had in hand. The room wasn’t what I expected based on hotel pictures. I couldn’t figure out how to make the old bathtub faucet produce the water I desired until the second day of my stay. I missed the evening part the conference that I had flown half-way across the country to attend.
Perceptions and preconceived ideas greatly change how we experience situations.
In my mind, this conference would go perfectly. I would fly to sunny southern California, learn mountains of information, meet great people, and then blissfully return home. The hotel would be perfect. The drives would be scenic and pleasant. Everything would go according to plan.
The first evening, I laid on the bed in my less-than-expected hotel room and considered the stress I was experiencing. While there were delays and inconveniences, nothing that terrible had happened. No accidents, no major dilemmas, nothing that would ruin my time at the conference. Yet I still felt disappointed and a bit let down.
My expectations were not met and I realized they had been ridiculously high. When I thought back to how I expected the few days to go, I imagined sunny days, easy drives, and luxurious sleeping quarters. I let the novelty of the situation turn the reality into something disheartening. When I surveyed the past day with few expectations, it turned out that reality wasn’t quite so bad. Continue reading “When Expectations and Reality Don’t Match Up, Choose Reality”