{Thoughts on Surviving}

What if life is more than simply “staying safe”?

From the moment we are born our instincts for survival kick in-when allowed. Had we been left alone at birth we would have kicked and crawled and cried our way up our mama’s abdomen-keeping ourselves warm and alive-until we found our mother’s breast. I’m increasingly curious about what appears to be the rescue, escape, and distraction that we cling to so strongly in order to escape the instinct for survival.

All seriousness aside as it relates to becoming a civilized society, modern culture, and extending life expectancy-please offer me the opportunity to raise a few questions as it relates to the purpose of survival and overall satisfaction with life. Were we not a culture so often dissatisfied with how we spend our days (going to school, working full time, staying home full time, retired with the “honey do list”) I wouldn’t wonder a bit. But as Barry Schwartz puts it, “The majority of people on the planet to do work that is monotonous, meaningless and soul-deadening” there’s something missing in this thing we call life.

What if we saw our daily work from the lens of very serious daily survival? Just as a baby crawls it’s way to his mama’s breast to find that deep satisfaction his first milk-what if we were willing to work that hard-every day-knowing that our effort provides the pathway to survival: water, food, shelter.

I felt most alive during the most challenging of life experiences. While I surrendered to the natural process of birth the people around me held space as I suffered-and eventually, over time-a baby was born. The same is true as I held space for my dad who was dying from cancer. I didn’t save him, but I did hold space for him to have the most dignified and natural entrance to his enteral life possible. In both situations, no one was stepping in to rescue or distract-rather, the focus was on letting go as the most basic, natural process our bodies were created for took over.

Maybe it’s not our own survival that we are most motivated by, but rather the place in which we end and someone else begins.  Suppose that it’s in that space of connection that real life happens.  That’s where the spark of life that fuels us in all the mundane and monotonous acts of life.  Could that be where our most significant work finds it’s beginning?  The work that not only matters today, but tomorrow and throughout eternity.

What if we wake up every day acutely aware that how we spend our time, the ways we balance acquiring more with using what we have now, and serving those right here in front of us are of the most importance?  The realization that there are no pills to fix us, no rules to protect us.  What we really need is to wake up every morning living such authentic lives that we know deep down to our core that what we eat, how we treat one another, what we prioritize is what makes our lives and benefits those we love the most.

More than anything I want my children to play in such a way that the last thing on their mind is fear. I want them to hop up to me with skinned knee’s and stubbed toes after playing a bit too close to the woods and passionately waving hi to a stranger. I want my family to know that if the day comes and we have to labor for our food and shelter that all will continue to be good. Lord, please help us to dig our feet into the ground here on this earth so that we may be better prepared for our full and rich life that is waiting in eternity.  For that drawing near to you and the freedom you want for us is what we are all really living for-when we recognize it and not.