Monday, July 18, 2005

Gaps In Immortality

I grew up a pretty lucky person, in the country. This entails a lot of outdoor activity and a lot of hard living, because kids growing up in the country have to make there own fun. This “fun” usually involved a very high risk of bodily harm and with every birthday the risk of injury grows exponentially. Imagine a boy with 500 acres of land, a 4x4 jeep, a tractor, alcohol, and, of course, firearms. This situation was usually compounded by the presents of peer pressure from about 3 or 4 other teenage boys. Now, what our parents were thinking letting us have this type of freedom, I don’t know, but it was real easy to be unsupervised in this much space.
As one can imagine I got hurt a lot. I was involved in 5 vehicle wrecks – one of which made my truck look like a compacted beer can. I was involved in one accidental shooting, three dislocated joints, a sum total of about 45 stitches, and a year and a half of continuous physical therapy over the course of 5 years. This laundry list does not include all the vehicles, tractors, and 4 wheelers I screwed up over that period. One would think I would have a pretty good understanding of mortality, but you would be wrong. I thought I was immortal.
For the most part, I still act and think like I am immortal. My mortality only comes to the surface on rare occasions when I mentally or psychically look death in the face. As I was in the middle of one of these gaps in immortality this past week, I realized how much I take life for granted. But I am not sure if functionally you can live any other way than to take life for granted. What would a modern day life look like that had a healthy balance of mortality and immortality?

3 comments:

geoff said...

i was also raised on a farm, TP. it was a great blessing and i've certainly experienced what you're talking about. it has been my experience that one is never so much aware of being alive as when one has a brush with death.

i loved being out on a farm this past weekend and i'm carrying some ugly blisters on my hands from the work. the little pain i feel is actually a nice reminder of 'real' work. i feel strangely invigorated by small injuries...tiny reminders of mortality. perhaps this is a reflection on how numbing a cotton-balled urban life can be. i hope our connection with david (the farmer we visited) can give us a taste of the fragility of our lives and perhaps open a way for this balance you mention.

david said...

. . . if you all aren't careful someone's gonna poke an eye out and then it won't be all fun and games . . . ;)

billy said...

Todd,
I can relate to your post in just about every way, and I find it very refreshing to hear you sharing about the precarious adventures of youth. Honestly, I find it hard to believe that I ever survived my teen years or that I managed to avoid killing or seriously injuring someone else! A knee surgery, back surgery, and a several years stuggle with chronic pain have all combined to teach me that I am definitely not immortal. And as I've reflected on this issue over the last year or so, I've begun to discern a very close relationship between my wild/reckless behavior and the internal/emotional pain that I think lies in back of it. For me, at least, many of the extremes of behavior were almost like a form of "self-injury," where I physically punished my body because of negative things that I thought about myself of my life situation. At any rate, as I've started to move beyond that particular type of behavior, I've begun to discern a deeper and more tender emotional space where healing needs to happen. So, thanks for sharing your experiences with me and encouraging me with your honesty. I'm not quite sure how to avoid taking life for granted or how to appropriately embrace our own mortality/immortality. However, one thing that I do suspect, is that it has an awful lot to do with being comfortable with who God has made you to be, and who we will ultimately become in Christ if we persevere. Thanks............