In an episode of Nurse Jackie a big, burly and naked linebacker is brought into the emergency room by the Rescue Squad. It turns out that he has a developing dementia from the repeated blows his head suffered on the field. As Jackie talks with him he says: “I don’t know where I go. I don’t want to wander off, and I do, and I don’t know why. Beautiful wife, beautiful life, and everyday it’s all slipping off my plate and I don’t know why.”
One needn’t suffer from dementia in order to be puzzled by one’s life. In order to begin to understand our life we need to do more than just experience it; we need to reflect upon it and evaluate it. Some of the confusion that we experience in life is of our own making, like the individual who develops the ability to deny his responsibility in his decisions, who develops the ability to not see the chaos caused by his decisions. Sometimes, we participate in our own hoodwinking.
Why does it take something exceptional to shake us out of our mindless slumber? Hurricane Sandy roared out of the Caribbean, headed straight for New Jersey and New York and completely wiped away the normality of many coastal towns and lives. Even now, over two weeks later, there are still many without electricity and heat. One woman whose home was completely demolished was being interviewed on tv. The interviewer was commiserating on her loss when the woman said, “It’s not a problem; it’s an opportunity. Now I’m free of all of that stuff and I can start over.”
I was stunned when I heard the words because of the mindset that they revealed, and I wondered about the fact that perhaps there are more opportunities in our life than are noticed simply because of how we view what happens: Tragedy, or blessing?
What about today? What about our work? If it seems like a burden, is there not a way in which to see it as a blessing? How about setting off into the day determined to find one good thing in the day? The fact is that we notice what we look for, as in “Seek and you shall find”. How about seeking instead of keeping our life at arm’s length, at a distance?
We needn’t wait for death to go to either heaven or hell; we are already there today, depending upon how we view things. Hell would be to climb into bed tonight and have to say, “It’s all slipping off my plate and I don’t know why.”