Sunday, October 23, 2011

Whose Afraid of Dying?

"What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I experience, I understand." 
                              - Adaptation from Confucius

It's funny to me how most people only entertain the notion and seriously take into consideration their own inevitable "mortality" (for the first time in their entire lives) at a certain age, which, unfortunately is often later in life...

Why do I find this amusing? Well, because for me, the idea of "dying" is something that has literally haunted me ever since I was a very young teenager...something that I would actually lose sleep over, spending endless nights tossing and turning in bed while four very unsettling and unacceptably unanswerable questions raced through my mind. These were:

1) What will happen to me when I die; where will I go?

2) What will it feel like? (Gosh - it must be terrifying, why is this the one thing everyone must do alone?)

3) If I can't answer the first question, then how can I possibly understand why I am here in the first place? What is "here" anyway?! I'm supposed to just be okay with the fact that I'm  situated on a planet that is part  of an "infinite" Universe? Also, if I can't understand why I am "here" (whatever that means...), then what is the purpose of

4) Why does it seem like I am the only 15 year old truly concerned and alarmed by this! What on earth is wrong with me?

*Note: I understand very well that all religions have answers to at least half of these questions. I myself was baptized into the Roman Catholic faith, attended a Catholic elementary school, went to church every Sunday with my italian grandmother, studied in CDC, and got my Communion. However, nothing I ever heard throughout my religious upbringing truly "resonated" with me or even comforted me in the slightest. In fact, if anything, it left me with more questions than answers...
Having said that, it's also very important to mention that I not only sincerely respect the varying faiths of others, but BELIEVE that what they "believe" is actually very true...FOR THEM. I respectfully do not push my own beliefs onto others, and am sincerely grateful when they do not push theirs onto mine.

Besides the whole "death" thing, there only was one other strange fear I had... Call it a premonition if you'd like, but I was always absolutely terrified that I would end up with a rare Brain Disease. Whether it be a Brain Tumor, MS, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's or just plain old going bat-shit crazy - I was paralyzed with fear just by the thought of it.

Sooo...if someone were to tell me back then that at twenty-two years old, I would be disabled by a disease that not only affected the brain and mimicked a couple of the more horrid illnesses mentioned above, but that it would ultimately be too "unbearable" to LIVE through, and that I would even attempt to take my own life to try and escape it! - My. God. All I can say about that is - sometimes not knowing the future is truly a blessing!

Ironically, in the end, it really did take having that Near Death Experience for me to absolutely abandon any negative connotations I may have had about my youthful phobias. In fact, pretty much every person I've ever heard of "experiencing" a NDE will tell you roughly the same thing. Not only do I find that they are not afraid of dying, but most are "upset" that they have to come back!

Another thing I've noticed is that having this type of experience will forever alter the way they view and even lead their lives afterwards. The "change" in my perspective can pretty much be summed up in the following story and from the implications in it:

In the last century, a tourist from the States visited the famous Polish rabbi Hafez Hayyim.

He was astonished to see that the rabbi's home was only a simple room filled with books. The only furniture was a table and a bench.
"Rabbi, where is your furniture?" asked the tourist.
"Where is yours?" replied Hafez.
"Mine? But I'm only a visitor here."
"So am I," said the rabbi.

Many Blessings and Much Love,

PS. If you have NO idea what I'm talking about in this post, please go to "My Story" and read Chapter Three: As I Lay Here Dying.


Anonymous said...

Checking, checking - Love the quote my dear - so perfect!

Anonymous said...

Yay! Its working! Woohoo!!

Sarah Lamando said...

You are SO cute, my love! Miss you...xoxo (Write "Jessie" next time!)

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