I've been thinking a lot lately about life and about death. I certainly don't want to die young. But I also don't want to outlive my friends, family, and usefulness. It is possible to just carry on too long and I want no part of that.
It seems odd, at 32, to worry about aging. Maybe that's natural. My dad said 30 was his toughest birthday. Even tougher than 50. At 30, he said, he went from young to old. Every birthday since he's just gone from old to older. That's a much shorter step.
Though, if 30 is old then may we all be old for a long, long time. But this anxiety about aging is really bothering me. I don't understand it. I guess it's normal.
I've always thought that I want a normal life. Now I'm not sure what normal means. I don't want to die too young. There are shootings and car wrecks and plane crashes and cancers that have taken friends and family far too young.
I had this conversation with my cousin Michael last night in my dreams. He died at 22 a couple of years ago. He told me not too worry about it. Of course that wasn't really him, it was me talking to me as him.
The problem, of course, is control. I want to have control over my life. I want to be in charge of what happens to me. I want to be steering this ship. But I'm not. Control is an illusion.
Sure, there are things I can control. I can eat well and exercise. I can make good financial decisions. I could go back to school and finish my degree. But there are earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, a crashing global economy, a pitiful job market, and random acts of violence. There are accidents, there are bus wrecks, car wrecks, plane crashes, bicycle crashes. There are electrocutions, there are drownings. The list of things beyond my control is overwhelming.
I could fight to gain control. But the only real way to do that is to control my demise by creating it. I have no desire to do that. So I need to accept what is beyond my control and give it up.
I believe in God. But does that mean that I can say that God is on control? Does God cause everything, for good or ill, to happen? Is God steering this ship in the same way that I desire? If that is the case then God sure does some pretty unthinkable things with His control. I think if God causes every disaster, every disease, every act of violence, then maybe we should rethink the idea that God is loving and good.
So if it's not God (I'd rather God be loving and good than be directly manipulating every event in the universe) is it fate? Is it chance? Is everything random? Is anyone in control?
These are questions for which I have no answer. Sometimes I wonder if seeking an answer is just some attempt to wrestle for control. But I know this. I am not in charge. I do not have control. And I never will.
So what do I do? I have to accept this lack of control. We can say that I have to give up control to God but I don't know that God wants it. Rather than directly control every outcome I think God just pushes us, gently, quietly, patiently towards loving each other, towards compassion, towards empathy.
I need to listen to the still, small voice that coaxes me to love. And I need to let go of fear, anxiety, and the illusion of control. What will be will be. I can't stop it. I can't change it. I don't know if it's written in the stars or ordained by God or what, but I do know that I am not in charge here.
I have no influence on the nature of God or the universe. I have no influence on the logistics of life and death, eternity, heaven or hell or any other thing real or imagined. I can not make life be what I want it to be. I can't place my order and then request an exchange or refund if I don't get what I want. I can accept things, and then work with God to bring what we imagine is the Kingdom of God to this place.
I can love. I can hope. I can persevere. I can have faith, even if I don't completely understand the nature of that in which I place my faith. But I can not control. That is beyond me. I've got to give that one up.