I lay in bed, grasping my sides and moaning piteously in my efforts to keep from heaving my insides out even though there wasn’t anything left inside. As I lay there with a raging fever, my aching body thrashed around on perspiration soaked bedclothes, while a single thought roiled in my brain like waves crashing on the rocks below in a wintry storm: “Why bother?”
“Why bother?” The question springs up only in those times when a virulent fever ruthlessly thrusts aside every conscious thought and instead interjects outlandish hallucinations, agonized whimpers and wretched creatures of nightmare.
In other words, it doesn’t happen all that often. When it does, however, I am left drained and depleted, with only scattered images of hellish ordeals, aching and painful muscles, and the ghostly (ghastly) echoes of my own helpless moans as residua. The specter of my father, who committed suicide at an early age, arises again. “Like father, like daughter,” I think (even though he was a young man at his death and I am now more than twice his age). I wonder, yet again, “Is suicide really an option – for me?” How many times have I asked this question throughout the years? And why do I ask? Because, for me it’s all part of my most important question: Why bother? So, once again, I contemplate the idea of ending my life. How would I? Why do it, or why not? And once again, I arrive at the same conclusion that (in my mind), suicide is always an option. Will I select that option? Not today. It’s not time to end this existence. Because before I can take such an action, I need to answer this persistent and nagging question. Why Bother?
Fever raged through my body for 72 hours, most of which were spent unconscious, at best subconscious. Eventually, things quieted and semi coherent thought carefully poked its quivering nose out, braving the storm to ask again: “Why bother?” It was, after all, the only question requiring an answer. Nothing else could be accomplished until that question was resolved. “So, Jan, let’s have a go at it, eh?”
Why bother … trying?
I reflect on my coaching career as it continues growing toward success for me and my clients.
But … what if I don’t bother? What will happen then?
Someone else will pick up the pieces and create a success for themselves and my/their clients. So … Is success really all that important? Hmm, something to think about.
Why bother … speaking?
I think of my coaching clients and how excited I am for them when they ‘get it’ – the pride I feel for them with each step they take.
But … what if I don’t bother? What will happen then?
If I’m not around, someone else will take them in hand and help them succeed. Sooo … is it important for me to feel pride for them? Or for myself?
And what about … with relationships?
Oh, I’ve loved the many special times with family and friends.
But … what if I don’t bother?
Like George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life; I reflect that if I’m not around, it won’t really impact their lives in any meaningful way, will it. Life goes on, after all. And really, what’s the main purpose of friends and family, anyway? Is it approval, or acknowledgement, or some form of recognition – of belonging? Do I really feel a need to belong? And if so, why?
And the ultimate question …
Why bother … living?
Now, that is the real question, isn’t it: Why bother even living?
What is so important that I should keep trying, breathing, feeling, living? Especially lying here, completely wrung out and too weak to do anything about it?
It’s funny, isn’t it, that when an intense question like that arises in our minds (at least it’s true for me) it requires thought and consideration to dredge up an answer. But there is also the awareness in that chaotic swirling, still only semi coherent process, that in reality the answer is irrelevant – it’s the question that is of ultimate importance.
“Okay, Jan, this thing needs a bit of thought organization, doesn’t it? So, thoughts, start organizing yourselves, and answer the question. ‘Cause, there’s nothing I can do, about anything, until you resolve this one thing. Unable to get myself untangled from these twisted bed clothes; no food, no shower, and still not even any energy – so just lie here a bit longer and focus, and answer the bloody question. I’m too weak to do anything but crawl to the bathroom anyway, so it’s easier to just lie here and contemplate.”
Okay: The questions.
Why should I bother continuing to grow a successful business? If I don’t do it, there are a lot of people out there who will step in and do it. So my success isn’t anything truly special, is it?
And what about my coaching clients? What will they do if I don’t bother? Already stated; there are plenty of coaches who will step up and help clients become successful. Which means I’m not really needed there. Two down.
Why bother with relationships, of any kind? I mean life goes on, doesn’t it. People may occasionally think of me and miss me, but … is that enough reason to bother? I don’t think my life really impacts many others all that much, so why bother? What’s the point?
Now we’re down to the real question, Jan. Why bother living? If there is no ‘purpose,’ no ‘scheme of things,’ no particular goal, and nothing particular to achieve, then what IS the reason to keep on living?
My mind drifts off once more, floating in a nebulous cloud of semi-awareness and silence. No emotions, no needs, no wants. Only the comforting silence. Waiting.
Drifting, like a quiet breeze wafting in through the window, clearing the air and sweeping the fog from my still sluggish brain, words appear: “To experience the experience.”
In Conversations With God, Neale Donald Walsch wrote, and I have to paraphrase here, that there is no great or grandiose purpose, no goal, no raison d’etre for our lives. The only reason we are here, at least in my interpretation, is to experience the experience.
When I first read that book series and made that connection, I thought, “Well, that’s depressing, isn’t it!” I mean, If there is no purpose, then Why Bother at all? As I worked my way through the process and understood that my soul/sole purpose here on this earth is simply to experience the experience, and I mean every experience that I create, a sense of joy flowed through me. My mind excitedly embraced the freedom of that thought. No longer did I have to try to live up to some unstated purpose or reach some unreachable goal. I was given the freedom to relax into each and every moment and simply experience the experience. The relief, the joy of that discovery was profound.
And slowly now my feverish brain remembered. I remembered that the reason to ‘bother’ is to ‘experience the experience.’ No need for judgment or classifying an experience. The ONLY thing I need to do is let myself BE, and like tree sap in spring, a profound joy began to fill me once again.
Gently thoughts began to glide through my mind. No need to strive, Jan. Just let yourself experience the experience. Nothing more. Of course, success is lovely. Yes, there’s a certain high with success. Yes, yes, yes. But … that didn’t seem an important enough reason to make me want to bother. But … just to experience that experience? Who would want to miss out on that?
What about relationships then? Why else but to experience the experience! How else will you or I experience love, friendship, compassion, happiness, anger, despair and delight? The only possible way to do that is through the experience itself. And ALL we have to do is to experience the experience. Isn’t that amazing?
It’s irrelevant if ANY experience could be labeled ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ make me ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ or ‘mad’ – it’s just all part of the experience – and I remember now that the only reason I am here is to experience the experience. Not to judge the experience, simply to experience the experience. The sense of freedom has my mind soaring.
The process continued; I can succeed or fail in business, do my best for my clients, build relationships, go for a walk or a cruise, skydive, swim in the ocean, sit alone and read a book, listen to music, or meditate. It really and truly doesn’t matter what I do – because my ONLY ‘job’ in this life is to experience the experience – EVERY experience. And to continually remind myself not to judge the experience, simply to experience it. To savor it. Taste it. To smell it, wrap myself up in it, luxuriate in it, and feeeel the emotions of the experience as completely and purely as possible.
To allow myself to LIVE each and every experience, as fully as I am able, and to give myself the amazing experiences of this juicy, luscious, filled-with-emotion experience called living. Even if and in those times I might experience pain.
Since I’m not ill very often, when it does happen, my mind feels ensorcelled and this recovery seems to be slow. But each time I awaken, I discover the answer is always the same, which makes sense since the question is always the same question: Why bother?
My answer: Because the reason I am here, in this human form, is to simply and completely experience the experiences of my life. I feel no demand to serve a greater purpose, no unreachable goal to achieve, no soaring ambition to be fulfilled. The ONLY need I have is to experience the experience – of my life, of living.
You may have different answers. Feel free to share with me in the comments below. I would love to hear from you and the discoveries you have made for your life.
If you feel a knee-jerk reaction and/or compulsion to preach at me and tell me that “finding Jesus” is the only true purpose, you need make no effort to convert me to your belief. However, I eagerly invite you to live YOUR life according to your own personal belief. For myself, I’ve spent many long hours searching, studying, praying, meditating, thinking, and feeling, and allowing myself to arrive at my own conclusion, which is this: I am here on this earth for the soul/sole purpose of experiencing this experience of life. To allow each experience to flow over, around and through me; to wallow in it and to milk every last morsel of expression from it; to fully embrace and experience LIVING.
What do you think?
April 5, 2016
Update: My brain finally cleared today sufficiently to research the symptoms of my slow and delayed recovery. Duh. Due to almost 72 hours without food or liquids, I had become severely dehydrated. Should you begin to get ill, I urge you to stock a supply of water/juice/liquids by your bedside for those times when you are aware enough to fumble around at all, and to force yourself to drink, even sips, as often as you can. You may rest assured that I will be following my own advice on this as well.
Please comment and share.
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