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One of my favourite quotations comes from a billboard, clarifying once and for all: "Men also do have feelings: Thirst!" But if you scratch long enough on the suface, much more weakness becomes visible. Just as our whole life becomes more and more traceable through an exponential increase of "prescribed" surveillance following the tragic events of 9/11 and voluntary heart-to-heart talk in online communities and on strange webpages.
Hiding Weakness... not
Admitting Imperfection. We usually point out or strengths in order to impress others and maybe ourselves, as part of an ongoing process to climb up the career ladder and reduce self doubt. Some self-convinced people can be quite annoying, when they try to be funny. If you work on a general listings of different qualities needed to complete a task and got one person joking "When should I come by," you already know that you are not dealing with a real team player. There has been so much written about how to improve ourselves and eliminate our weak spots, rather than just openly admitting our weaknesses. Following that approach, you got to be careful though, not to wallow in self-pity and beg for empathy. Instead, just openly put your cards on the table, pointing out things you are good in as well as the own human imperfectness, instead of constantly living that illusion of an invulnerable super human, you are not. It takes guts though to admit weakness to others.
Footprints in the Sand
Help in Crisis. As the saying goes, during hard times you find out, who your true friends are. Those that are there, when you need them the most. And in times of deep personal crisis many people break with their belief, angry for being tested rather than trusting upon being provided with the necessary strength to overcome their despair. After a similar situation, Austrian pop singer Rainhard Fendrich recorded a serenade for a friend, possibly a projection of himself. "Serenata por un amigo" is a reflection based on a poem by Mary Stevenson:
"I dreamed that my best friend was walking with God on a beach. As the stars flashed brightly in the sky, he recognized his past. He saw two sets of footprints in the sand and asked the Lord about the meaning of this. God replied: 'Since you have chosen me, I have always accompanied you...' But then the friend saw a section with only one set of footprints along the way and discovered that this had been the hardest period of his life. So he said to the Lord: 'Where were you during that time? Why had you deserted me?' God replied: 'I have never abandoned you. Where you can see only one set of footprints, is where I carried you...'"
Support Question. Have you ever been in a similar situation, ready to give up, without success longing for help when you felt you would need it the most? And then maybe you were just too proud to ask the right person...
Leaving your tracks behind, like traces in the sand...
Reality and Illusion
Was that All? Some say life is an illusion, a pre-stage for the truth we will learn only after. Others argue that life is everything, the materialistic world is it. The early Danzer song "Das kann doch noch nicht alles gewesen sein" comes to mind: "That can't have been all yet! There was something else, I am very sure. First you enter the world, then you are supposed to go again, just when you believe that everything begins. That can't have been all yet! No, no, I just can't believe it. Or should I maybe, or should I maybe have forgotten to live?" Iron Maiden on the other hand would rhyme in their song "Hallowed Be Thy Name": "When you know that your time is close at hand, maybe then you'll begin to understand, life down there is just a strange illusion."
Overcoming Tiredness. How long can you keep up an illusion? For sure there is always hope for improvement in daily struggle and striving for a better situation, which as every change may include the risk of losing it all. But over the years people get tired. Tired of hearing the same excuses for unreliability, tired of repeating the same advices on efficiency that allows us to achieve more with the same effort behind, tired of arguments about the most natural things from cleanliness to timeliness, which are as easily agreed on as quickly as they are forgotten again. We may become so tired of the same daily routine under pressure to perform and do things better, do them right...
Under-Lived Ideal. The gap between reality and ideal, these downsides that come with many good things, are not for everyone to accept. A constant in life is important though, support especially for those we are responsible for, the under aged looking up to us. Responsibility is an over-stressed term, but under-lived, so to say. We may encounter personal lows and feel that weariness, while forcing ourselves to go on and on and on. We may face disappointments every day, but in the end it is a matter of how we deal with these situations and motivate ourselves anew until we can lean back and relax. Freed of responsibility for a next generation that can stand on its own feet, we may deep inside come to know that we have achieved something over all those years. When we have outlived our usefulness, it may be time to go.
Towards the end of times
Is there More? In times of grief and sorrow over a loss some people try to repress their pain in order to forget. Others attempt to achieve closure through exchange with a trusted one, an honour by no means. Some believe that towards the end of our earthly stay we are getting picked up. Deep inside I suspect that it had been the other way round with me though: I got picked up some time ago, while my human shell is still here, by mistake? The thought reminded me of the movie "The Sixth Sense," featuring Bruce Willis and that confession of a little boy: "I see dead people!"
In-Between State. It is disturbing to imagine that spirits may be walking among us for having unfinished business to take care of. "One day I used to live, but that's a long time ago," as the anonymous poet would say. As by another theory, right after death the spirit - in Eastern cultures alternatively referred to as the life energy Qi - enters an astral dimension, a sort of waiting room between the worlds. It will either be forced to re-incarnate until cleansed or get picked up by the light and taken home, wherever that will be. Further research on the topic raised more questions than it resolved.
Seeing the Light. In the very moment of their death, people are said to see light at the end of a tunnel. Religious interpretation refers us to the first time we face the glory of God, which is beyond description. We may enter a better place, known as heaven, if we deserve it. How appealing!
Every real hero has got a weakness once the mask is off!
Scientific Disillusion. The ultimate motivation to live a good life and not give in to the dark side. Taking their last breath, people tend to stretch out their hand one last time towards someone, who takes them along. In their last moment people may call out the name of a beloved family member such as a late spouse or parent. As many elderly people may face loneliness towards the end of their stay, it may comfort us, who are left behind, that they can now rejoin their beloved ones, who had gone ahead before them. A scientific explanation speaks of a brain reaction in connection with the release of a chemical called Dimethyltryptamine, a mind altering substance that is responsible for reliving your life in a dream like state. Is it just that the brain, before shutdown, tries to make the process of dying more acceptable by creating a tunnel-of-light illusion, tricking us into reliving memories of loved ones and constructing a fantasy world that leads us to believe that there is an afterlife? How disappointing! Heaven, rebirth or just limbo, what will be it? They say that we lose 21 grams at the moment of death. There is speculation that this may be the weight of our soul. Is it the spirit that deserts the body, or just the air that left us as part of a last sigh, or is it all just another misunderstanding caused by statistically insignificant measurement? We'll come to know, when we meet our maker, maybe sooner than we think. "21 grams... the weight of a stack of five nickels, the weight of a chocolate bar, the weight of a hummingbird." A lot could be said about the movie of same name, which is as fragmented as human speech often is, telling events not necessarily chronologically but in "emotional order". After all, it is the story of guilt, of redemption, and most of all of a good heart, which lives on in a different body. There is one more tag line: "Whoever looks for the truth deserves punishment for finding it."
Comforting Belief. The difference between the situation of a nonbeliever and that of a believer really occurred to me during an unusual sermon: As we learned, a drunkard had addressed the priest in a local pub, bringing it right down to the point, when he said: "Your are lucky. At least you have got the hope of an afterlife!" However, our desires can be quite confusing: "Everybody wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die", Albert King had summarized the paradox situation. The introduction to the book "55 Answers to Questions About Life After Death" spoke of the Bible teaching us that death comes quickly. To break the ice on the serious topic, it quoted a conversation among a patient and a doctor: "I'm afraid I have bad news," said the doctor. "You don't have long to live." "Really?" said the patient. "How long?" "Ten," said the doctor. "Ten?" asked the patient. "Ten! Ten what? Ten months? Ten weeks? What?" The doctor responded, "Nine, eight, seven, six..."
Conversation among Planets. One gets the bad feeling that even more is at stake these days, if we don't achieve a change in mindset. In times of industrialization, environmental pollution, global warming and halfheartedly debates at another World Climate Summit, the following sad but probably very true joke comes to mind: One planet meets another in space after a long time. Says one planet: "Oh my! What happened? Forgive me if I say this, but you look terrible!" The other planet replies: "Yes, well, I've got homo sapiens!" Says the first planet: "Oh! That explains it, but don't worry, that too shall pass...." Maybe 2012, as another disaster movie suggests?
The next page is about the ultimate Truth.