Why do I live?
Last week, I was at a UU summer conference with a few hundred of my bestest friends. Gentle Giant, a member of my home church, proposed that we have an impromptu “Deep Listening” covenant group while there. We did, and it was wonderful. Want one every time, from now on. Such a smart guy.
Anyway, I was the de facto facilitator of the group, and charged with coming up with each day’s question. I unapologetically cribbed from my uusalon partner, Earthbound Spirit, and presented this month’s question – Why Do You Live?
For a while, the group answered in fairly predictable ways – for our kids, because existence is what we do, etc.
At some point, however, the conversation changed. We put it more in the context of the movie clip – life and death. If you were in that situation, where someone kept trying to kill you, would you live? Why?
We realized that right now, each of us in the group is in a position to simply live because living itself is so wonderful, so delicious. Of course we live.
We veered into more serious avenues, such as being in a Jewish concentration camp. One person admitted he would grab the electrified fence and not live. (This is why it’s good to be in a Deep Listening group. In a regular discussion group, I would have interrupted, “No, I don’t think you would.” Because I know him. But what hubris to say I know him better than he does himself.)
Why do I live?
I know what it is like to hurt so bad you would prefer death. I know that feeling.
Part of why I live is duty. Because of those in my life now, because of those who went before me, I believe I have a duty, a duty to make the most of my life, a responsibility because “much is expected.” Life has given me so many gifts, I owe it my life and labor. I owe it to both to those whom I love and those whom I’ve never met.
Another part is that I love to be surprised, and am continually reminded that each day unfolds more surprises. What will my life be like in a year? I can only guess.
At its most basic, though, I feel that by being alive, I have already won the lottery. Biologically, such a small chance that I, exactly the way I am, would be here.
As happens so often, my thoughts lapse into the poetry of others. I live because “I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep.” (R. Frost)
I live because “some of it’s magic, some of it’s tragic, but I had a good life all the way.” (J. Buffett)
Because “even (if) it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord of Song, with nothing on my tongue but Halleluia.” (L. Cohen)
And “For what it's worth it was worth all the while. It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right. I hope you had the time of your life.” (B.J. Armstrong)
I live because I’ve had the time of my life.
And I keep having it.