The Five Truths of Life
A few weeks ago, back in October, my youngest daughter shared a bit of wisdom she heard at Workcamp with our Church. The presenter was Father Geoff Rose and he shared “The Five Truths of Life” from Father Richard Rohr. I would like to touch base on the 5th truth, “you are going to die”.
First, the obvious: we are mortal and our time is limited. In psychology this is sometimes referred to as Thanatos after a lesser god in Greek mythology. Erik Erikson developed a theory of psychology in which he organized life into eight developmental stages. In the final stage, Integrity vs. Despair (65 to death), older adults often look back on their lives with a feeling of being fulfilled and content or a feeling of despair in which they fear death and struggle to find purpose in their lives. The sum of our decisions and choices in life are reviewed.
I believe this is a key to the deeper or second meaning of the 5th truth, “you are going to die”. Our decisions and choices that lead up to Erikson’s final stage begin sometime in our teens when we start to gain some degree of control/power in our lives. A simple way to look at this may be found in a question I put to adults with children: “Will the decision/choice you make today, be one that your child respects 10 years from now?” The decision/ choices we make today have consequences, both positive and negative, and we as individuals of integrity take responsibility for our decisions/choices. Through our lives these decisions/choices add up to the story of our lives and as we look back on this story, we find fulfillment in a life well lived or regret and despair.
Through the process of making one decision, another choice simultaneously dies. This is the day to day reality of the 5th truth. Simple choices like what I will have for lunch imply what I will not eat for lunch. When looked at only in the context of one day, this may be of little consequence, but when looked at over the course of one year, may result in a healthy diet or an unhealthy one. When I choose not go to school or to skip a class, it kills the choice of attending school for that day. If I repeat that decision tomorrow and the next day, my choice to graduate is being assaulted and if I chose not go to school often enough, my decision to graduate dies. Does this sound harsh? What about the decision to have unprotected sex or to drink and drive? If I impregnate someone or I become pregnant, what part of my life is assaulted? If I am arrested for DUI, what part of my life dies? Before we get caught up in the negative, let us look at the good news. Decisions also have positive outcomes. When I choose to attend class daily, I ensure the life of my decision to graduate. When I decide to obey the law, I ensure my freedom. When I chose to be faithful to my spouse, I have integrity. When I chose sobriety, I am alive.
Yes, you will die. Every day through your decisions you will find yourself living or dying.
John Goetz is a Licensed Professional Counselor at Edmond Family Counseling 341-3554.