Explorers of the afterlife

imageI am a baby boomer. In tv terms that is someone born with 3 black and white channels. Fifty years later I have high def digital tv with more channels than I’ll ever use. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I got to watch a television show beginning to end through multiple seasons without missing an episode. The show was Six Feet Under. Each episode began with a death. Not your run of the mill end of a long life well lived kind of death. The kind of tragic, too soon, unfinished business kind of death. I was disturbed but intrigued from the very first episode. After all, the show really wasn’t about death. It was revealing the life of a human being, telling someone’s story. Through the dead person, we learned about the living, those left behind, those who loved, those who mattered. By experiencing the pain, suffering, and loss of a life, we cherished and respected the character more deeply. In the art world, it is called painting the lightest light against the darkest dark. It makes the greatest contrast and the subject stands out.
At the expense of appearing macabre, I would like to mention one of my favorite books. It happens to be about those who face death feeling most alive. It is called Explorers of the Infinite by Maria Coffey. The author interviews extreme athletes such as free divers, extreme skiers, mountaineers, and long distance pilots. They discuss how facing death makes them respect life. Tightrope walkers are a clear example of the deep focus and concentration of a single step and the consequences of a misstep. This respect for life and the attention given to each movement has become a spiritual awakening for these athletes. It may shed light on why some people are hard wired for risk taking.
All of this leads to why I became a blogger. My elderly mother began to need more help to perform her activities of daily living. I happen to be a nurse Which gives me some insight, but also gives me the flexibility in my schedule to help. When I tell friends what I am doing, I sometimes get the look of sympathy. I want to say, She’s not dead yet! In our society, taking care of someone is seen as a burden. It is a responsibility but also a privilege. It allows me to be intimately and personally involved in my parents’ lives. I have developed a relationship that is different from any other. As I face my parents’ mortality I am acutely aware of how precious life is. They are like the Himalayan mountaineers trying to make it to the mountaintop. I am the Sherpa. A cold frost may take their toes or take their lives, but I will tell the story of their courage and spirit of their last ascent.

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