This archived article was written by: Caitlin Wright
For the past three and a half years, I have worked in nursing homes and my eyes have been opened to many realities about life.When you really think about it, we and every living organism, are in a constant state of dying.
We live, so that eventually we can die. It was said by Pope Paul VI, “Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day.” Do it, I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows.
This is really quite a depressing thought, but a truth nonetheless. How then, does anyone or anything find a reason or way of going on? How is it that there is any meaning to what, when or why we do whatever it is that we do?
The answer to this question is the simple and the exact opposite of death; life. Although we may be undergoing the process of dying, more importantly we are living.
On dictionary.com, the synonyms for living include existing, surviving and flourishing. These explain people as individuals and as a whole. We exist and survive in the environments that we live in. We pull through all the trials that befall us, because over all else, we must survive. It is our innate sense and we cannot deny it. We flourish in our survival through culture, discovery, art and science. We are always learning, growing and becoming greater. We thrive in our existence.
I have also learned about the cycle of life. It repeats itself, inevitably. When a child is born, he/she is rendered completely helpless. Without the proper settings, actions and procedures of those around him/her in the world, the child will die. That child must be fed, cleaned, watched, entertained and cared for in order to have a healthy and comfortable existence. The cycle is not complete until the child grows, matures, lives and eventually reaches the point where age once again renders him/her helpless.
Because time has taken a toll on the body, the reliance on those around him/her for care is necessary. The young and the old have more in common than is realized at first. Some would call this cycle vicious, others would call it unavoidable.
I used to call it both. Now, however, I see that without this orbit of time, there can be no sense in living. There is no comfort without pain, no good without evil and no joy without sorrow. We have to experience the bad to be able to appreciate and love the good. Life may be pain, but it isn’t all pain.
There is a reason it is called life. It is because to be fully alive, in a complete sense of the word, you must be filled with vivacity, vibrancy and color. Even though we are dying, it does not mean that we are doomed to live as though we were dying. We are given life so we can fulfill goodness and bring about joy. We are given life so we can be sensitive and feel and experience all the emotions that make us feel alive.
These could be the random ramblings of a person that doesn’t have any real sense of the world and how things work, but who has seen life end. I have seen death’s icy fingers reaching for someone who has lived knowing that moment would ultimately come. I have seen that person face the end of their life not with fear, as one would presume, but with the satisfaction, peace and knowledge that they lived their life to the fullest.
This gives me great comfort. Do not waste your life, and those precious moments that we are given. We all may be dying, but that doesn’t mean we can’t live at the same time. Treasure those you hold dear, forgive those who have hurt you and refrain from passing judgment. Life is too important to squander away on meaningless problems and prejudice. Don’t just live. Experience life.