Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Do you ever wonder if, on your deathbed, you'll worry that you didn't do anything important with your life?

On an episode of "House", Talb says just that - on his deathbed he'll worry he didn't do anything important.

What counts as important? What counts as a waste of life? If this worry drives our lives, drives our life decisions, is that more important than the life of the person who by all appearances does nothing worthwhile but who loves life and enjoys him/herself and other people?

I've heard and seen tons of anecdotal reports from people whose lives were changed by the love of a child with downs syndrome. Isn't being able to love unconditionally important enough to justify a life?

My response to Talb's worry was, as I flashed back over my life at warp speed, that my life has mattered because I'm doing the important work of trying to bring together as one two congregations that are superficially totally different - hispanic and non-hispanic. I say superficially different because the things we see in one another as differences don't really matter in the big scheme of things. All that matters is that we are humans.

But I also realized that the only thing that gives my life meaning is that I live. I screw up, I fail, I succeed, I love, I hate, I try, I vegetate, I get it right, I get it wrong, I forget to show up for 6 a.m. mass. I'm human. I was born. I've struggled through this life for over 65 years. It's not all been good. Lots of it hasn't been good. And it's my life.

I'm alive. That will have to do. Now and on my deathbed. I stood up to life and lived.


DeanB said...

It's not given to any of us to know what was important of what we did, anyway. There are things that we've forgotten that made a big difference to some people, and things we think are important that nobody else remembers. We need to try to make the world better, but we're not going to know how it works out. A good-faith effort, without the results having to be important, counts.

There's a great ancient rabbinnic quote (I'll sing it for you in Hebrew if you want): "It's not for you to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it."

Lois Keen said...

Oooo, I love the quote, DeanB! You are right, of course, and the quote is just wonderful. Thank you.