What is important in life? Is it material gain? Is it friends and family? Is it hard work with a good harvest? When it’s all said and done, when you’re dying of whatever disease or ailment that fate should curse you with, when you have nothing left but a few moments to look back and ask yourself “was it all worth it” or “did I do my best”, will you have regrets? Isn’t there a girl you didn’t kiss but should have, a hamburger you wanted to eat but didn’t, a trip you could’ve taken but you were too afraid to leave home?
I have always believed that having experiences is the purpose of life, the “remember whens”, the funny anecdotes, the pain and pleasure, the friends and enemies. If I pursue this mode of thinking, if I focus on experience alone with no regards to sowing and reaping; and if I one day find myself alone and homeless, sleeping under a bridge, hacking out my lungs and lighting another cigarette, it will have all been worth it to have been part of the experience of life. I will have my memories. As muddled and vague as they are or will be, I will have those memories and that’s more than I can say for someone too afraid to live.
I remember back in the mid-nineties when I was high on magic mushrooms, lost in an airport parking lot in the dead of winter. I remember working for a printing press in Tyler, Texas, helping to produce tracks for YWAM, and witnessing to sinners on the streets of downtown Dallas. Once I lived in a tiny, cockroach-infested apartment in Reynosa, Mexico and I hiked through the boreal forests, muskegs and wild lands of Alaska when I was a boy. I was friends with Pastor’s sons and drug dealers, harlots and saints, geniuses and morons, shallow jerks and deep philosophers, hopeless poets. In the seventh grade I spent an entire semester playing chess and an entire summer getting drunk and stoned. I have been a painter, a musician, a film maker and a dishwasher at a resort sixty miles out of town. I have been in love, found a soul mate and lost her, found her again and lost her again. I have been married and I have watched the horrors of chemotherapy tear apart the woman I love. I have been deep under the ocean in a warship and jammed in the back of a bush plane in inclement weather bound for Russia. I have seen the crumbling of communism first hand and the poverty of our Mexican neighbors. I have been a prince and a pauper, a god and the most mortal of men.
It’s these memories that keep me alive. It’s these stories that help me get up in the morning. I want to never have regrets. I’m sure I will. However, I can’t help but try my best, to make the decisions good or bad, regardless of the outcome and to be willing to live with the consequences. I only have one life to live, if Western theology is true, and I owe it to myself to live it as best as I know how.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not condemning hard work or success but I am saying that you can’t take it with you and I’m sure you don’t need a PhD to get into heaven nor will it keep you out of that other place. However, your experience, the love and loss, pain and pleasure, is more immortal than your fancy cars and I-phones, your degrees or even other people’s opinion of you. All you really own is your soul and your conscious self. Feed it with experience.
-D. Gage (alias Nosmo King)image from: http://planetsave.com/2012/01/05/the-green-life/