Saturday, February 6, 2021

Live & Die Healthy

Moving into February means additional minutes of daylight grow rapidly. Over the month about 80 minutes of daylight are added in this area. Along with brightening the landscape, melting snow, and boosting my mood the need for lights and reflective materials lessen. Yet, I have learned over many years of foot and bike travel that reflective material is an everyday asset. 

Road ID Reflective Strap
Digging around a bin full of gear (too much gear) I discovered one of my first purchases of a reflective band. I have wider and brighter ones which is why this one was relegated to a bin. However, this one serves as an identification source (medical information + contacts) as well as being reflective. The motto which I chose to fill out the metal plate provided plenty of mental reflection as I brought it back into use. This piece of gear is about 15 years old. Thus it made me ask, "Have I been living and dying in a healthy manner?"

It may seem counter-intuitive to think of dying healthy. However, at the time the band was purchased I was working as a healthcare chaplain. I had also worked as a hospice chaplain and treatment center chaplain. I have been in situations too numerous to count where the dying person and their loved ones were not healthy. The physical realities of stress, hydration and caloric choices, and exercise along with emotional and spiritual maladies which accumulated over the years made a pain-filled, anguished, and desolate death, even when surrounded by people. 

Early Years
Reviewing the past often is not glamorous nor pleasant. Even though my past does not define my present, I cannot be in a healthy place unless I investigate and own previous patterns of thoughts and behaviors. The cute boy in the picture held more internal angst than his frame indicates. The sibling arguments and physical altercations were normal. They were usually short-lived and forgotten. Yet, I always held a desire to beat my older brothers at something. The internal struggles were more difficult to wrestle. It was into the fourth decade of my life when internal health began to take root and blossom. The feelings of inadequacy, the unresolved hypocrisy, and festering fury were faced with new resolve. There was no reason to deny the thoughts and actions. I could not begin being healthy until I looked clearly at myself. 

The late author, James Baldwin wrote, "To accept one's past - one's history - is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it. An invented past can never be used; it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought.

My understanding of "Live & Die Healthy" is not static. Health incorporates, as well as embraces change and growth. My outlook on the external and internal aspects of my being fosters health. Daily reflections are not for others to see me, but for building a foundation that is secure in the midst of what happens around me. As Epictetus said, "Circumstances don't make the man, they only reveal him to himself." My life can be as cyclical as the daylight in the Northern Plains. However, I do not have to revert into old practices and attitudes. Healthy becomes woven in the fabric of life, past, present, and future. The deep connection with reality as it is, instead of escaping from it is what I want to reflect. It is the soil in which my foundation is laid. 

Trans South Dakota Race
These words from the book, "Everything is Spiritual" by Rob Bell, "Our lives are loaded from the beginning with history and drama and love and wounds and tragedy and hope. I'm mysterious enough to myself, let alone the ones I come from - We never stop leaving who we are and how we've been shaped by the people and places we come from. Our hearts and minds and memories are endlessly explorable."  

I invite you to reflect, explore, and live & die healthy!

No comments:

Post a Comment