Falling

Picture a world where, at birth, you are hurled off a cliff—a really, really high cliff, so that it takes a lifetime to reach the bottom.  You would “grow up” on the way down (if you can imagine such a thing) moving through the stages of infancy, childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. 

Because you had always been falling you wouldn’t be afraid of it.  After those first few terrifying moments you would get used to it, and then began to enjoy it: that wonderful feeling of weightlessness, the wind in your hair, the ability to swoop and dive.  Everybody else in this world would be falling with you, so you wouldn’t be alone.  You might even join hands with someone else and choose to fall together for days, for years, or even for the rest of your life. 

Some people would find that if they flapped their arms really hard they could slow their descent slightly (the same people you see running on the treadmill at Gold’s Gym).  Others would get bored and go into a nose dive to speed things up (the same people who live so carelessly and recklessly now).  But the one thing everybody would know is that there was no way to stop falling altogether or to start falling up instead of down.  Eventually everybody—everybody—would hit bottom.

And everybody would know it.

Which is different from our world, where people often seem surprised by their own mortality, by the very idea that they could get sick and die.  “Why?” they ask.  “Why me?”  If we lived in that other world I might say (while falling beside them), “Well, just look around you.  Everybody is falling.  Everybody is going to hit bottom eventually.”  But in this world they know that some people hit bottom sooner than others, and it doesn’t seem fair, and they want to know why. 

“I don’t know why,” I say at last.  “And you’re right…it doesn’t seem fair.  But back to my original point: everybody is falling, and everybody is going to hit bottom eventually.” 

And while it seems odd to say so, there is some comfort in that, isn’t there?  We are not alone in our mortality.  Everybody else is doing it with us.  It makes you want to join hands with those others, and pull them in close, and then do everything you can—together—to enjoy the ride: that wonderful feeling of weightlessness, the wind in your hair, the ability to swoop and dive…

9 thoughts on “Falling

  1. Hebrews 9:27 says: “And as it is appointed unto man once to die…” or, putting it another way, “hit bottom”.

    I am in no rush to “hit bottom”, but I do know that day is coming and I also know that, when that day finally comes, I may very well welcome the act of hitting the bottom. However, until that day, I want to be able to enjoy the “falling” and enjoy the relationships that I have established with those who are “falling” along with me.

  2. By the time one reaches 82 on one’s journey, there have been a lot of opportunities for loss and learning how to deal with it. You have given us a delightful and thoroughly thought provoking way of perceiving our mortality. I learned long ago that fairness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, and since my bias is that we are all the product of our yesterdays, whatever they have been, it is very difficult to place ourselves in another’s perspective. Some are easier than others to understand, but nevertheless, we each have our own perceptions and criteria for filtering and interpreting what we hear and share with others. Thanks for the emphasis on the shared pleasure possibilities, and the looking ahead to what’s coming, as well as enjoying the complete journey day by day. One of the great dividends of adversity is coming to realize how many folks there are who care and share your concerns. Church families mean a great deal, as do our other communities.

  3. Just got home from a study with friends on Ecclesiastes 9 and then read your blog! Thanks for pointing out that I can learn more about life by understanding and accepting it’s ultimate end and by reaching out to those around me while I have time.

  4. When you strip everything away but descending from the mix-no books, schools, offices, gyms, homes, churches, stresses, obligations, or even clothes-it seems like all that would be left is relationship, mutual understanding, and love. It brings a whole new meaning to letting go and letting God! Listening, sharing, and touching would take on greater significance, but trying to change each other would seem pointless. The level playing field would provide a safe environment for enjoying the scenery on the way down.

  5. I love life, but honestly, death seems like the better option when I take a look around at the world I’m exposed to. Sure, there are plenty of good things to keep me preoccupied while I make my journey and fulfill my mission, but what makes death so scary to people? I’m open to taking hands and reaching out to people around me while I live, but the sooner I die, the easier, I think. And I also believe that death (if I live a righteous life) is even more fair than having to live in this world. Heaven seems a whole lot more bright to be a part of. Thanks for this post.

  6. Jim- Thank you so much for this blog.
    It helps me take the bee sting out of this day. Wishing the pain to be over and looking forward to the Horizon.

  7. Great Blog! Just the words I needed to hear, so true, we will all hit the bottom but lets focus on the ride ;-) Thanks

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