Death comes for everyone. And on this side of the soil, it seems permanent. When someone dies, we lose them. We don’t see them anymore. They are gone. Dead is dead.
Some of us* subscribe to belief system that hang on the idea of an afterlife. Some of us believe in Resurrection… that at different times the dead have come back, or that one day the faithful will breath life again.
*I definitely believe in resurrection and afterlife. But this article isn’t entirely about my christian beliefs.
I wonder how many men that I know are dead.
How many men feel the echoes of their existence bouncing through their life, but have never had a visible glimpse of their purpose. Thoreau described men “leading lives of quiet desperation.”
I have been there. Going through the motions, struggling to keep my head above mounds of my own backlogged work. Neglecting the duties that I had promised to fulfill, and barely able to provide for my family’s needs. I blamed everyone else for my problems. I had no discipline. My creativity was spent… and in my business, I depend on that creativity. In that place, I made a series of bad business and career decisions. I could easily have lost everything. If my wife was smarter, she’d have upgraded to a better husband. Fortunately, she was wiser than smarter, and willing to be patient with my messes.
I know that feeling, to feel dead inside, to question if there is even a reason to exist, to give up hope that things will ever get better.
Addicted. Divorced. Lonely. Fat. Depressed. Angry. Empty. Hopeless. Hurting. Careless. Stupid. Sick. Distracted. Stuck. You are either there, or have been there, or at least know someone who is there.
Men, you don’t have to be ok with death.
You don’t have to embrace the tomb.
You don’t have to stay six feet under.
My friend Matt was a heroin addict. His liver was toast. He had Hepatitis-C. The doctor gave him six months to live. He thought he was dead. (Today his liver is functioning perfectly and his Hepatitis-C is gone.)
My friend Justin was 799 pounds. The doctor said, “Lose weight or die.” He took one step to get started. He’s very much resurrected after losing 600 pounds.
Before I was born, my dad was a drunken divorced brawler. When he met my mom, his friends warned her that he was trouble. After breaking his femur in a motorcycle wreck, a fat embolism stopped his heart. My mom sat by his bedside and prayed for him every day, until his heart changed. That dude wasn’t my dad. I grew up with a sober, kind, and loving father. Fiercer than fire when he needed to be to protect and provide for his family. My dad was alive. Not the dead dude in that hospital bed.
I was there in another hospital room, praying by his bedside with my mom a few months ago.
It’s ok, Dad. Stop fighting. You can go now.
But he didn’t go. His eyes were open, they hadn’t been for weeks. They had locked on each of the three of us for a moment or two, and then they were fixed in the distance. Strong. Determined. Like a soldier reporting for duty.
The nurses were shocked, because usually turning off the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machines only takes 5 minutes. Dad fought for 2 hours. His lungs were shot. But up to his last raggedy breath, he was a fighter.
I knew that my dad wasn’t going to RISE UP and walk that day. Not because of a lack of faith. But because it was time. He’d told us he didn’t want to be kept alive by machines. We gave him every shot we could give him. But it was dishonor to disobey his very clear wishes.
Speaking of faith, it reverberates in me – this idea that the resurrection is possible. One day, Dad will RISE UP.
Here we are, men. We’re being kept alive by our machines. If it weren’t for our cell phones and social media servers, we wouldn’t be able to connect with people. If it weren’t for our big ol’ trucks, we wouldn’t be able to arrive anywhere. If it weren’t for our bowflex and treadmill, how could we even be super ripped and shredded? Blenders, laptops, microwaves, GoPros, dishwashers. How can we even survive? We want too much. We give too little. We have to “work out” because we stopped “working.” We have to get LinkedIn because we stopped connecting.
I picture myself laid out in a mausoleum. Cold on the slab. Surrounded by flowers. What good to flowers do? Maybe the cut back the smell, but it’s not long before they are dead too.
I’m done with that. It’s time to suck air in my lungs. It’s time to rip the stitches and open my eyes. It’s time to put my feet on the floor and walk out of the grave.