Wednesday, June 27, 2012

There seems to be a hole in the middle of everyday
life, as if a rock had been thrown through a
plate-glass window. But instead of being a physical
hole, one could call this a “meaning hole,” an
absence that cannot be defined except to say that
it hurts. Even if they cannot analyze the effect
that lack of meaning is having on their lives,
people feel it, and as a result a sick sadness hangs
over things, even the best things.

How many people experience love, freedom, faith, or
devotion as deeply as they really want to? How many
cannot feel these things at all and are left with
guilt and blame instead?

One of the strangest phenomena of postmodern culture
is this optimism over death: doctors and therapist
are urging us to make death, not just a positive
experience, but the positive experience of a lifetime.

Sickness has always had an element of escapism in it.
As children we were coddled by our mothers whenever
we ran a fever, and seriously ill adults are still
given “intensive care.” But if a terminal illness is
seen as escapism carried to its ultimate, one cannot
help but ask, “Is this life so terrible that escape
is its greatest reward?”

I do not want to parody this issue, having strong
beliefs of my own that the fear of death is very
crippling and needs to be overcome at the deepest
level. But it is disturbing to think that our culture
provides us with so little opportunity to confront
the basic meaning of life that sickness and death
have filled the void by becoming conversion experiences.

We are weakest when sick, least able to summon
the resources that are needed for real transformation.
If people are not transformed before the crisis,
they may find themselves with not enough time to
enjoy the life that suddenly seems so worthwhile.

*  Adapted from Unconditional Life: 
Discovering the Power to Fulfill Your Dreams,
* By Deepak Chopra (A Bantam Book, 1991).

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