TDB&TB Question #18 ~ The Harsh Light of Disaster

by Jean-Dominique Bauby

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TDB&TB Question #18 ~ The Harsh Light of Disaster

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu May 22, 2008 9:18 am

From the interview with Schnabel...


“Had I been blind and deaf or did it take the harsh light of disaster to find my true nature?” asked Jean Dominique Bauby addressing himself and all of us. Does it take locked-in syndrome to make a human being conscious, to make others empathize? Do we have to get sick for the angels to appear and help us?


How would you answer Schnabel’s question?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Parlez » Thu May 22, 2008 10:11 am

The short answer is 'Yes'. The longer question is 'Why?' Is it at all possible to be a healthy, physically intact, fully-functioning human being and reach those higher (deeper) levels of consciousness as well? Or are we doomed to be distracted, pre-occupied and ignorant until (unless) disaster strikes. This is the stuff of New Age metaphysics and the musings of Deepak Chopra and his ilk: How can we get in touch with our higher Selves without first experiencing injury, chronic illness, hardship or be on the brink of death?

Those guys claim it's entirely possible to be fully present and to cultivate a more refined sensibility, or consciousness, without having to endure personal tragedy. It's a matter of finding (or re-finding) the template that's already in place - the one that tells us what we're really doing here, in this life, as Human Beings. The point and purpose of be Human doesn't have much to do with words like 'success' or 'achievement' or 'winning'...the point and purpose of being Human has everything to do with words like 'love' and 'compassion' and 'acceptance' and 'wisdom'.

The tragedy is that those who suffer life-altering disasters are actually the ones with the most potential to access their true Humanity, whilst the rest of us who are blessed with good health remain cruel and short-sighted and ignorant. How can the angels come to our aid when we're convinced we don't need any help??
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa
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Unread postby nebraska » Thu May 22, 2008 11:13 am

It isn't only illness or injury that makes us more aware of our humanity (although my time healing a broken wrist sure made me aware of how fragile I was and certainly humbled me). Terrible loss, like the death of a child, can transform someone.

I think we are all shaped by the events in our lives, sometimes on a larger scale than others and sometimes in a more dramatic long-lasting way than others. For Jean-Do the event was so huge and was so permanent that his changes were on a larger scale. In a way, he had to re-invent himself for this new locked in life.

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Unread postby Liz » Thu May 22, 2008 1:53 pm

Wow! Heavy contemplations for a Thursday morning!

I think it is personal challenge of any kind that can wake us up to a deeper level of consciousness. If life was easy, we wouldn’t grow. Without sorrow and pain, we wouldn’t appreciate the blissful times. I think when everything goes smoothly in our lives, we tend to keep going along like it will be that way forever. Then we face a tragedy or major disappointment or some other challenge that wakes us up and reminds us that we are mortal, and that we need to think beyond our day to day existence.
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Unread postby Endora » Thu May 22, 2008 2:41 pm

Our lives are so full of the things we don't need that we can't even recognise the things we do. We worry about our possessions, our money, what we look like, so many things. WE just don't have the strength, most of us, to get rid of them. We spend our days wanting more...that new pair of shoes, that mascara, that new food, that wine, bottox, another quailification and so on. Do these things make us better people? Mostly, no (and often, not worse either, but certainly not better.)

I think most of us weak willed lovers of our possessions would say we should be happy with less, but haven't the guts to do much about it. Yes, we're all blind and deaf, but through choice. Jean Do had the choice made for him when he had his stroke.

I'm saying this from a very personal point of view. I do recognise others might take a more forgiving stance, but from experience within my own family, where things have taken precedence over people, I have become a cynic.
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Unread postby teacher » Thu May 22, 2008 5:23 pm

Liz wrote:Wow! Heavy contemplations for a Thursday morning!

I think it is personal challenge of any kind that can wake us up to a deeper level of consciousness. If life was easy, we wouldn’t grow. Without sorrow and pain, we wouldn’t appreciate the blissful times. I think when everything goes smoothly in our lives, we tend to keep going along like it will be that way forever. Then we face a tragedy or major disappointment or some other challenge that wakes us up and reminds us that we are mortal, and that we need to think beyond our day to day existence.

A lot of it is due to making plans rather than taking actions: we all plan to do something good with our lives, but tomorrow.
I believe it's not only deep tragedies, but all profound events in our lives that make us reconsider ourselves and the world. Childbirth is one, I think. Marriage sometimes. There are few new parents who are self-obsessed, envious, greedy, shallow or downright evil. But, as with other things we tend to get back to our normal selves after a relatively short routine.
Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion. - Tom Wingfield, Glass Menagerie

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu May 22, 2008 5:51 pm

I agree with you all that it is easy to get caught up in the day to day existence of our lives and our "stuff". teacher, your points about marriage and having children is a good one. Two events that make us look outside ourselves but are not tragedies...well mostly anyway. :lol:

I do try to stop and smell the roses as it were on a daily basis. It does take a concious effort most days. Whether it is enjoying a view on the way home from work or the smile of one the kids where I work I try to remember. I also believe there are angels that are easy to spot on a daily basis if we just take the time to look. I work with a number of them who may not be helping me but are working behind the scenes to help many people in need.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby suec » Thu May 22, 2008 6:47 pm

I agree, DIDHOT, with your point about the angels. I have been very fortunate over the years to have benefited from some of them. People who have noticed when I have been struggling and who have taken me under their wing and shown me such kindness. I don't think that I could have made it without them. And only one of those times was it an obvious health problem for me that triggered it. But first of all, it takes someone to notice, and a health problem or a personal tragedy can have that effect. But some people are more observant and sensitive that way, and can sense less obvious things that others can't. It also takes a certain type of person to respond, because not everyone can empathise or care to the same extent. One factor in that of course is life experience, because it is easier to spot something, and understand it, when you recognise it. But it also comes back to attitude that we discussed yesterday, and how we use what we have.
"Luck... inspiration... both only really happen to you when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose, and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate-filled moment."

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Unread postby Parlez » Thu May 22, 2008 8:07 pm

Endora wrote:Our lives are so full of the things we don't need that we can't even recognise the things we do. We worry about our possessions, our money, what we look like, so many things. WE just don't have the strength, most of us, to get rid of them. We spend our days wanting more...that new pair of shoes, that mascara, that new food, that wine, bottox, another quailification and so on. Do these things make us better people? Mostly, no (and often, not worse either, but certainly not better.)

I think most of us weak willed lovers of our possessions would say we should be happy with less, but haven't the guts to do much about it. Yes, we're all blind and deaf, but through choice. Jean Do had the choice made for him when he had his stroke.

I'm saying this from a very personal point of view. I do recognise others might take a more forgiving stance, but from experience within my own family, where things have taken precedence over people, I have become a cynic.

Oh, Endora, with your oh-so accurate insights about the power possessions have and our attachment to 'things' in our lives, even to the point of being more important than people, you make me want to go back and read Happy Days again! To me, that was the gist of that whole story. And likewise, with this one. There's so much 'stuff' that gets in the way of our being fully human. We carry our stuff around, accumulate more, and try to be happy and satisfied with it all - try to squeeze out some meaning from those inanimate objects - but for many of us they just become a burden we're impotent to put down.
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa

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Unread postby gemini » Sun May 25, 2008 10:12 pm

This is a tough question. I've been debating it. Those who mention life trials like loosing a loved one are correct that it brings you to a halt to really look at life. There is always the fact that we all differ somewhat in our sympathy from the rest of the world. Some are born more sympathetic and some thinking a bit more that each of us is in this world on our own. Strangely even after a death, mother nature or time always heals and lets you slip back into living life day to day even though you never quite reach the perfection of before. It still takes effort to be truly sympathetic to others. Maybe I should rephrase; it's easy to be sympathetic but harder to do something about it.

Endora your line
I'm saying this from a very personal point of view. I do recognize others might take a more forgiving stance, but from experience within my own family, where things have taken precedence over people, I have become a cynic.
You really gave me a shock as I see myself here too.
Last edited by gemini on Mon May 26, 2008 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby Parlez » Mon May 26, 2008 11:00 am

I believe the capacity for caring - for being sympathetic and empathetic - lies in each one of us. When we are faced with tragedy or hardship or emotional/physical suffering it opens us up to our natural ability to connect with others. Having suffered, we never get back to 'normal' (as in selfish or oblivious); we are forever altered (as in open to the suffering around us). How that plays out for each of us is unique, but I believe it does play out and is not simply ignored in favor of returning to our 'old' ways. As someone here mentioned, the tough times we endure have the effect of building character. I would suggest that character isn't so much built as reflected...it's our innate character that shines through in a crisis, in ways that are never selfish, oblivious, or myopic.

Just my :twocents: of course!
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa

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Unread postby Betty Sue » Mon May 26, 2008 11:20 am

Oh, Parlez, that was not :twocents: worth!! Those were golden words!! With the possible exception of a sociopath, I completely agree with you. :cool:
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Unread postby Parlez » Mon May 26, 2008 5:22 pm

Betty Sue wrote:Oh, Parlez, that was not :twocents: worth!! Those were golden words!! With the possible exception of a sociopath, I completely agree with you. :cool:

Thank you, Betty Sue! :hug:
And you're so right ~ the Charles Sobrajs, Ted Bundys and Charles Mansons of the world kind of put a strain on my noble assessment of human nature! :fear:
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa

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