The Heroic Life

The Oracle Said To Me

Today’s soundtrack: here.

Monday I posted a story about the dream after the dream, the life I’d like to live after adventuring. You can see it here if you like.

The story ended with the confession that I won’t live to see that dream come true.

Death and the Oracle

This message from Rogue Priest reader Lorri was quite touching:

Hi Drew. I just read your most recent blog. I am wondering… Do you know that you will die young? Do you want to? …Are you [seeking it]?

Do I know that I will die young? Not exactly. An oracle told me that I will die at 46, which I consider to be a short life. I’m 30 at present. I was told this when I just 22, having lived almost one half of my projected life span.

Do I believe that? Well, I wouldn’t say that. But I decided life will be more awesome if I live as if I believe it. To do everything relentlessly and get as much in as I can before that expiration date.

Do I want to die young? No. It is very poetic and all but the truth is I can think of enough things to do to fill 100 lifetimes. The world is my lover and I feel good every day I look into her eyes. She makes my heart soar. I would never leave her if it was up to me, but it isn’t, so I spend every day loving her while I can.

I do, however, recognize two important factors. First, bravery is the most important virtue to bring me through my journey to its goal. I cultivate that by meditating on my own death. To write out my retirement dream and then declare I’ll never live to see it is a powerful practice.

Second, I recognize that preparing for my death can’t just be a mind game. If I am truly committed to the Heroic Life than I must be willing to risk myself to help others, unflinching. My joyful life is merely on loan to me. It really belongs to others. That’s the way I’ve chosen it and that is probably how it will come due.

So, I take the chance of my death as a very real thing. At the same time I don’t want to do anything to make it happen. I’ll just keep playing and training and loving life till I’m given something worth fighting for.

If I live to celebrate my 47th birthday it will be a hell of a party indeed. And yes, every single reader will be invited.

Thanks everyone for reading along with this strange priest as I try to understand what real heroism is. I’d love to hear your thoughts on all this.

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18 thoughts on “The Oracle Said To Me

  1. I had some of the same questions as Lorri; thanks for addressing them in this post.

    I love how you write about being in love with the world. It reminded me of the quote, “Learn to move in the world as if it were your lover,” by M.C. Richards, at least I think that’s the quote–I wrote it on the back of a bookmark so I must have read it somewhere.

    I think most of us have some kind of date that we keep in mind regarding death, whether it’s due to an oracle or not, or in my case, having lost family memebers to illness too soon. You can’t help but think, “Well, if I make it passed ____, then maybe I’ve been spared the same fate.”

    I know it’s been said many times, but you just have to make each day important, even if it’s just in small acts.

  2. Some time in my teens, around 16 give or take a few months, I think, I got this “feeling” that I wouldn’t live past my mid-30’s. At the time, it didn’t much bother me, I didn’t have anything to lose. Now…. If I think-think about it, I get a chill. But most of the time I live as though it’s not going to happen that way. I don’t dwell on it. There’s a song by Tim McGraw called “Live Like You Were Dying.” I don’t live quite like that because there’s a lot of “exciting” things to do that I’m not interested in doing, like sky diving or rock climbing, etc. Lol, I guess I’m a rather boring person! Looking at my palms though, maybe I should have them looked at by a palmistry reader.

    • I don’t think that makes you boring, Gwen. If you are doing the things that excite you & bring you fulfillment, you’re living a much more interesting life than many unhappy daredevils.

  3. Your comment about what your 47th birthday party (may) be like reminded me. I don’t think I ever mentioned it to you, but my mother died at 30. She was a waitress (as was I – briefly at the exact same chain she worked at), left my father to explore relationships with women … it was a bit uncanny.

    My 31st birthday party was probably the most important birthday party I’d ever had. It was a complete celebration of not following completely in my mother’s footsteps. It felt a bit like I’d dodged a fate somehow … like I’d been on a path but took a crucial right turn somewhere. I know that’s not the case, because I am certainly not my mother, but it was a fancy that took me.

    And, of course, Shoryl’s birthdays are all a celebration of “yay! Look at how not dead you are!” Morbid, perhaps a bit, but seriously something to celebrate.

    • I’m sorry about your mother, Colleen. It’s easy to forget how much we follow our parents (or don’t, but think we do). In my case I saw how my father delayed his dreams and became unhappy for it. I suppose that is part of why I chose to live the way I do.

      By the way, I’m very happy that you and Shoryl are both still live :)

  4. I also loved how you wrote of the world as your lover! This life is short, and too many of us live it as if we have all the time in the world. This was brought home to me by my husband’s death seven years ago. Live. LIVE. We lived pretty thoroughly, together, and I am even more conscious of living deeply and fully now – even though for a time after his death I couldn’t see my future. Or, more truthfully, I didn’t like the one I saw. That changed.

    One of my favorite songs is Clint Black’s “No Time to Kill.” You might enjoy it. I’m also currently enjoying Lara Ewen’s “Death Better Take Me Dancing.”

    So, when’s your 47th birthday? I’ll put it on my calendar. Although I look forward to meeting you before then. :)

    • Okay I just youtube’d up those two songs and am listening to No Time to Kill right now. This would be great road trip music!

      I turn 47 on August 31, 2028 a little after 6 in the evening. I’m very sorry about your husband by the way. I can’t even begin to imagine.

      Although I look forward to meeting you before then. :)

      I love that you have your bases covered :P

      edited to add: I decided to trade a song for a song. Here’s one back at you, Susan, and I just edited it into the top of the blog post to serve as today’s soundtrack, too.

  5. Beth says:

    I already knew this story, but I’m glad you shared it. Because choosing to live as though your life may be short is a beautiful choice. I don’t think it’s morbid at all, at least the way that you live it. We will ALL have limited lives, and frankly we like to fool ourselves into thinking that we’ll live to old age, but we don’t know that. How many people are diagnosed with some illness and then wish they had done things that they put off? It’s not always easy to figure these things out – as Gwen observed above, not everyone wants to do the same things, and living this way doesn’t mean you suddenly don’t have to realize that your choices have consequences. But as long as one isn’t living in a state of mournful obsession about dying, I think facing one’s mortality is a powerful force for growth, and to help you increase your happiness and sense of purpose, regardless of how long you live.

    My favorite closing prayer from my church is “Life is short, and we haven’t much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us along the way. Therefore make haste to love, be quick to be kind, and the blessing of God go with you this day and all your days.” I can’t think of a better way to live than to grab on to all the blessings that God(s) give you every day of your life, whether it lasts 1 year or 100.

  6. One of the things which concerns me about oracles (and I say this as a card reader myself) is that they can unintentionally plant ideas in us which have a way of becoming self-fulfilling. I don’t believe the future is set in stone. When I contemplate possibilities for someone, I sense them as being potentials, offerings, dance steps, which mostly we can choose to take up or not. I was taught to never prophesize something as significant as death because it was only a potential, but the thought of it could hurt a person deeply, spoil their living, and cause them to behave in such a way that they brought about a potential which might not have happened otherwise.

    Obviously this has not been the case for you. And I appreciate what you were saying in this post – although I prefer the advice to “take each day as if you had all the time in the world, luxuriate in life and its small and slow details, be not afraid. Don’t be so focussed on doing, but on just being.”

    I look forward to hearing all about your 47th birthday party.

    • Thanks Sarah. I like to put my trust in reverse plot armor. Plot armor is when a character in a story never gets hurt no matter what ridiculous risks they take because the story needs them to be around in a later scene. I like to believe in the opposite: even if an oracle tells you you’re going to live or die, take all possible precautions anyway. Make fate* earn her dinner.

      *I don’t actually believe in fate.

  7. Dave says:

    You’re kind of a weird guy but I dig your style. Your little stroll is even starting to grow on me. Mostly I think you’re doin’ it for the right reasons. Course it doesn’t matter what my opinion is on it but ya got my seal of approval never the less. ;)

    Being not dead is fun. Gonna keep running with it for a while longer. I’ve meditated on my own death too. Or at least thought about it but everybody’s likely done that to a degree and at some point. It’s a good way to not be so scared and just go for it.

    Do me a solid and clarify what you mean when you say everyone has a purpose, would you? I’m not sold, I tend to think of purpose as being overrated. I prefer “aiming to treat everyone around you a little less like crap every day” but that’s kind of a mouth full and not as easy as it sounds.

    Forgive me if it’s just my pain meds foggin’ me up, but who are you loaning your life from? That bit threw me when I read it and I’m not sure I can make sense of it.

    Take it easy my friend.

    Cheers,

    Dave

    • Good question Dave.

      Note that I didn’t actually say here that everyone has a purpose, just that it’s something I like to ask people about. Asking someone if they believe people have a purpose in life is a great way to start an almost-always-fascinating conversation. They’ll share both their bigger views on the world as well as, inevitably, what they think their own purpose is or how they feel they have a lack of purpose. Beats the hell out of “what do you do for a living.”

      But that’s a cop out. You’ve probably read my other stuff, and I do indeed believe everyone has a purpose.

      Here’s how I conceive of that. It is not a Purpose assigned to you by Fate, God, or anything else. It is not written on your soul. But each person has something – at least one thing, sometimes a matrix of things – that fulfills them. Something that is both [they are good at it] and [they feel passionate doing it].

      If you identify this thing and then build your life around it, you’re living your “purpose” in life.

      For most people, discovering it is the hard part. Once they know what it is, building a life around it is often surprisingly easy.

      • Dave says:

        Good answer Drew.

        I dunno if I would necessarily call that purpose but it’s just as good a word for it as any I suppose. And I do believe that all people have one of those. I tend to think a lot of people have more than one of those too.

        Cheers,

        Dave

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