Life is a Present

Someone reminded me the other day that life is a gift. Someone else told me that my deceased life mate/soul mate is in a better place. The juxtaposition of these two ideas used to perplex me. If life is a gift, why was it denied him? If he is in a better place, why am I here? I don’t think about this conundrum any more, at least not much. Somewhere along the line I conceded that he might have gotten the better end of the deal. (It was easier to accept his death that way than to think he was missing out.)

gift2Life, with all its pain and trauma, seems a dubious gift at best. It’s more like a present, something that was presented to us whether we wanted it or not. Or like a presence: being present (being here now) in the present (this moment).

Considering all the possible gamete connections, it’s amazing that any of us are here. (Though I suppose it’s like the lottery. Someone will win the lottery even though the possibility of any one person winning it is astronomically small.) Our presence could be deemed a gift, yet there is the matter of pain and trauma, angst and ill health, grief and stress and old age, along with all the trials of everyday life. (There’s no need to mention joy or wealth or friendship or any of the other wonders of life — we know those are gifts without ever having to look for a bright side since they are the bright side.)

Perhaps the gift of life is emotion — joy and sadness, laughter and tears and all of the thousand other emotions that we humans experience, both pleasant and unpleasant.

When my profound grief over the death of my soul mate started to wane, I missed it, as odd as that might seem. There was something so very immense about such grief, as if I were standing on the edge of eternity, one foot poised above the abyss. I also missed the constant life lessons grief taught me about myself, about will and survival, even about the workings of our bodies. Would I choose to feel such grief for the rest of my life? Of course not, though knowing I will always have upsurges of sorrow doesn’t bother me like it used to. Mostly, I am grateful I was able to feel such grief and to honor his life in such a way.

It’s rather a literary cliché, one that most of us have come to believe, that the more intelligent a person or species is, the less emotional. Mr. Spock from Star Trek and Lucy from the recent movie Lucy are two such examples. But what if this belief is not true? What if emotion is a form of intelligence, and the more emotional we are the more intelligent? Are ants emotional? Are cockroaches or rats or cows? I don’t think so. Some animals do feel some sort of emotion, but no other creature can experience the range of feeling we do.

(Even if emotion isn’t a gift, it probably has some sort of survival mechanism because otherwise, why would emotion have developed?)

Not even all humans feel emotion. Sociopaths don’t feel emotions, or if they do, the emotions are very shallow. (There could be 30,000 non-killing sociopaths for every murderous sociopath, so this is a fairly common emotional disorder. See: Your Mother-in-Law, the Sociopath.)

So perhaps life is a gift after all, including all the parts like pain and sorrow that we would just as soon live without.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, andDaughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

9 Responses to “Life is a Present”

  1. Carol Says:

    I love the workings (and wanderings) of your mind, Pat! You give a great deal of thought to things and I think you must be very intelligent (not just for that reason; you strike me as a very deep person).

    I do tend to think of life as a gift — from my perspective it’s a gift from God. People wonder, if it is, why God allows such terrible things to happen, but I’ve always felt it isn’t his wish or choice. What humanity does with life is their choice, which is also a gift (having a free choice, that is). Unfortunately because many make bad choices, the rest of the world ends up suffering. Thus, the ‘why bad things happen to good people’ conundrum. But any way you look at it, life is a complex, fascinating period in our existence. 🙂

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you for such flattering words.

      And you’re right. When everyone has free will, each person’s or group’s activities impinge on the others. It’s why our thoughts, although powerful, have such a miniscule effect – others thoughts work against ours.

  2. Phyllis Edgerly Ring Says:

    Extraordinary insights — grateful this came into my day, and sharing with others.

  3. kencoffman Says:

    One of these days I will write my book about the next stage of human evolution: smart people, but completely immoral–and how they interact with we “gushers” or “feelers”.

  4. ansabhutta Says:

    You gave words to all my mingled thoughts about life. We are completely free to make our own choices. Its for us to choose whether to be happy or not. Though some things are not in our hands like emotions. Emotions play a major role though.

  5. Carol Louise Wilde (Carol Wuenschell) Says:

    These are some things I think about: Some emotions, at least, appear to be motivators. Fear motivates us to remove ourselves from danger. Anger motivates us to take action (not always good). Joy obviously motivates us to seek to repeat whatever made us happy. Grief, though, I have to admit is hard to explain. Is it supposed to motivate us to avoid whatever brought it? That doesn’t work very well when the grief is over loss of a loved one. What are we supposed to do? Stop loving? Then we would miss the joy of love that motivates us to keep loving, or to love again. I don’t know. This is a puzzle to me. I haven’t yet walked where you have walked. Perhaps you can say better than I.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The only thing I know about the importance of grief is that it helps us become the person we need to be to survive the grief. Life is about survival, and even though the loved one is gone, especially a loved one who helped us survive, our individual life goes on. As painful as grief is, it helps us survive, though the irony is that sometimes people don’t survive the grief. I do believe grief is like tree bark. If the outer covering of the tree never broke into bark, the tree could never grow, could never expand. It could grow taller, of course, but then it wouldn’t have the foundation and strength it would need to survive a great height. And in this way grief breaks open our psyches so we can reach greater love, greater understanding, greater joy, greater wisdom. Or at least that’s my theory. I have yet to see the results in myself.

Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: