The Power of the End

Apr 18, 2011
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Twice this week I have been privy to a realization that most people try to avoid: there is always an end. In this world, physical and tangible things are dreadfully impermanent. One second they may be there, and the next gone. These feelings often bring shivers and shudders to those who allow them to play chords through their own synapses.

But all the same, everyone in the world will have this realization and these feelings at some point in their lives; for death is simply part of living. This week I played the outsider on both accounts, thankfully. All the same, the way that driving by a fatal motorcycle accident bleeds into you and strangles you, even if only briefly, generates a point in which you will never be the same again.Just a little over two years ago, I was inflicted with a sneaky and sly infection that made a next in my pelvic bone. I spent over eight months on bed rest while doctors attempted to diagnose, let my body’s immune system attack, diagnose again, and then finally complete a final debridement and  skin flap surgery to repair the war that had been waged for so long. This was, by far, some of the lowest, scariest moments of my life thus far. At that point, my only job was to let my body heal itself from something that doctors couldn’t even determine. I had little idea when I would be better, and beyond that, thoughts would creep in about “if” I were to ever be better. Luckily for me, my cells are not quitters and I recovered with little residual effects.

My body finally healed itself with the help of mass doses of antibiotics and some fairly crafty surgeons; however, my mind needed some more time to recover. I have always been someone who believes that things happen for a reason. I have always been someone who attempts to find meaning in it all. While lying in bed, staring blankly beyond the grooves in the ceiling, I kept wondering what that whole experience was there for, what purpose it served. Once up and rolling again, I did have a new sense of living and of life. I spent a lot of time trying to make the most of even my most mundane of routines, but there was still something that I felt like I was missing out of this whole sacrificial lesson.

And so it was, seven months later, I was back on bed rest with a third-degree burn to the most vulnerable and crucial skin that I have, the very skin that I sit on. Immediately, I knew in my heart that I had, in fact, missed one of those life lessons from my last halt in health.

It wasn’t until I literally fell into it—the pool, that is—that I realized that the lesson was entirely about unfulfilled dreams and goals of mine that had lain dormant for nearly a decade. Once I started swimming again, my health and nearly everything else in my life found themselves walking the same path. For the first time in my life, I now feel completely whole, but it all wouldn’t have been actualized without that lingering notion of my end.

It isn’t until you are forced to think about life on both a minute scale of hours and days, as well as a scale that expands global time across an entire universe. By all accounts, life is a precious gift that each of us receives with no knowledge of what it would be like to have never been given that neatly dressed box with subsequent ribbon binding. This is why so many of us don’t know how to see life in a manner which involves a recognizable end. This is also why so many of us are so afraid of it all.

However, little reminders of the finite quality of life and the existence of important lessons and moments to challenge oneself to live in the best possible means that one could control is reason enough to be afraid; but don’t fear these things, rather learn from them. Learn that life is powerful and wonderful and can take you anywhere. The end may be imminent, but this moment is now and it is here for you.

Author: Ryan McLean