This morning as I walk I listen to an interview with Alan Hugenot. Alan is another of those people within six degrees of separation people for me. Alan is on the board of the SoulPhone Foundation. Mark Pitstick knows Alan and I know Mark. I am reading Alan’s book based on Mark’s recommendation.
I’ve been struggling with the idea that I should have an attitude of gratitude. Everyone says it’s good for me. A positive outlook is, without a doubt, better than a negative outlook. But, maintaining a positive attitude when the world seems to be crumbling around you is the struggle many of us have. How can I be grateful after the death of my child? How can I be grateful when a friend is diagnosed with cancer? During the interview, Alan relates his NDE. And, as a lot of NDErs describe it, how nasty it feels being back in this body after being Home. He talked about the pain of being back in the body; not the pain from the motorcycle accident that put him into the coma, the pain of being back in this world of pain. As he described it, this whole world is pain, just at varying levels. He used the illustration of putting your thumb against your forefinger and pressing. At first you feel just pressure, but if you press hard enough, you feel pain. Boy, I could relate to that!
People tell me I should be grateful to be alive. Frankly, being alive is often not that great. Being grateful just for being alive has never worked for me. I’m watching Year Million (TV series on NatGeo) and the episode last night was about immortality. Immortality, in this world, in this body? No thank you. Even if we could conquer diseases that kill us, what about accidents? Suicides? Murders? Who wants to struggle forever to “make a living”? Planet Earth is hard people. Don’t be deceived. Being alive when the one you love is gone is hell on Earth for many, many people. So, I had to find a shift. What could I be grateful for?
As I listen to people (this week it was Susanne Wilson and Alan Hugenot) describe Home, all I want to go is get back there. But, as they both point out, suicide is not an option. We are here for a reason. It’s incredible how few people who have had NDEs commit suicide. They often struggle to fit back into this world of pain. They speak longingly of the day when they return Home. But, they don’t take their own lives. They know the pain we endure here serves a higher purpose. So, they choose to stay. They serve. And, they do so gratefully.
I now believe in Divine Providence or at the very least, we have planned at least the “highlights” of our time here. That has helped me tremendously. I do think the pain serves a purpose. And with that belief, I can be grateful for all things. It’s like doing P90X. It sucks for 90 minutes. But, I know those lunges and pull ups and push ups serve the purpose of making my body stronger. I’m not loving the pushup and the protestations my muscles are screaming at me, but I’m looking forward to the results.
While we’re here it’s very unlikely if not impossible that we will know the exact purposes of each of the pains we have to endure. Last night I had a dream. In the dream, I was in a class and a test had been handed out. But, the test was simply a textbook sized book of problems to be solved. The professor hadn’t told us which problems to solve. We were just supposed to work for as long as the time allotted was and turn in the test. We could choose any problems we like, but we didn’t know which ones the professor had chosen to count for the test. I protested. I went to the professor and insisted he tell me which problems to work. I was confident I could get a good score on this test, but I couldn’t do it without knowing what the problems were. He was persistent. He was not going to tell me which problems to solve. So, I said “Well, at least tell me how much time we have for the test. I can’t take a test without knowing how much time I have.” He persisted. He refused to tell me even how much time I had. Frustrated I went back, sat down and worked on the test.
An aside. This morning as I listened to Alan’s interview he told me that Gary Schwartz had told him to go get the answer to a question, from the spirit world. Alan is a medium.. Alan said “Sure. What’s the question” Gary said “It’s blinded. I can’t tell you the question.”. Alan went to get the answer and got something about optics. That was weird because Alan knew Gary was working on audio. When Alan returned with the answer, it was what Gary was looking for. Weird that I heard this right after my dream about being tested without knowing the question.
This world is a world of pain and often, I feel like I’d do anything to just have it stop. I don’t know what the questions are. How am I supposed to find the answers. The pain feels random and unfair. But, when I sit on my cushion daily, I remind myself that the gain is worth the pain. The more pain, the greater the gain. So, I endure and I am grateful for the pain.