19 September 2011

A Matter of Life or Death

"Do not waste your time by night or day." - from a poem called Sandōkai (參同契) by Sekito Kisen, 700–790, a fundamental text of the Sōtō Zen.

It started with my birthday in May.

A nagging question of life and death. One that I had been put aside for decades. At least put aside from any serious consideration. But the question here at 55 is, once again, the meaning of life, the purpose of life, the what of life, and maybe most importantly, the why. I had the same question in my dorm room at St. Cloud State University way back in 1978. Thirty-four years later the question has much more immediacy than it did then. I am pretty sure I won't live to be 110 years old - Twinkies as a favorite snack will only get you so far after all. So it feels like this line of inquiry is once again open.

And because it is no longer just an academic line of inquiry it has a certain vitality.

We thought death had come for my sister-in-law yesterday. Her lips were blue and her breathing shallow. She lay on the sidewalk, unmoving, while we waited frantically - and you can indeed wait frantically - for the emergency rescue crew to get there, outside the Dave and Busters at the Mall in Columbus, OH on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. We thought she was slipping away...but she didn't. Instead of a heart attack, it was some type of food poisoning that left as fast as it came. Death stopped by to remind us all that life is fleeting.

I need those reminders apparently. Its quite easy to distract myself here in our interconnected age. I do it every day with books and treehouses and The Big Bang Theory. Oh, and work of course. And Facebook. And Twitter. And... it goes on and on. I distract myself from having to think about meaning. And so death.  Because I don't know what the meaning of life is...at all and so its much, much easier, and much, much less distressing for me to distract myself. I know that I am supposed to believe that Christ died for my sins and so by that Grace I get to go to heaven. But seriously, that can't be the meaning of life can it[?], because you know God could have skipped this step and just started us all off in heaven. Why this in-between step? Life as God's waiting room doesn't hold my interest much. Life as an airport. We get a layover instead of a direct flight. Why? Cheaper fare? There is a step in here that doesn't have an obvious purpose. A layover without rationale.

What is this life? Who is living it? Why is that "who" living it? Who is that who?

What is this?


1 comment:

siouxsiel said...

Glad to hear she is okay.