Monday, June 07, 2010

How We Enter & Exit This Life

I wonder, sometimes, if the way we enter and exit this world says a lot about our personality.

Some people, when they die, allow their spirits to transition out of their bodies rather instantaneously. Others die slowly and reflectively.  Neither is right or wrong; it may just be a matter of personal preference and need.

If we believe that all things happen for a reason, then we must believe that even unexpected, tragic deaths have been permitted by Our Heavenly Father, who allows for free will.  And if all life experiences are tailored to our best interest (by giving us the opportunity to grow spiritually even by suffering) then even unintended consequences (like car accidents) must be accepted with trust (although we cannot fully understand them).

Bearing all this in mind, I still suspect that the way we enter and exit this world reflects our personalities.  Remember, some people DO live through even the ugliest of car accidents, and this--I believe--gives us the mental room to consider that the methods and lengths of departures from this world may be less random and more chosen than one would think.  Personality is determined by our response to what happens to us, no matter what happens to us.

So how could our departures from this world reflect our individual uniqueness?

A contemplative, reflective (or even indecisive) person may need a slow dying process.  They need to take each step slowly, savoring the experience to make each step on the journey meaningful and memorable.  This is how they've approached and comprehended all other major life experiences (which have shaped and defined their person), so why wouldn't their life-ending process be any less similar or any less personal?

A person who is less reflective but more decisive may take the transition from physical life to physical death more quickly.  Whether their body has been mangled in a car accident or whether they suddenly and unexpectedly die in their sleep one night with a body that was fully functional, theirs is a quick exit from this world.  Perhaps this type of person has always dealt with change more easily than others.  And so, they accept the change from living with a body to living without a body more willingly.  It is as if they get comfortable with it more quickly.

This begs the next question:  could there be a relationship between personality and how we enter this world?

While it's true that the birthing process is both a combination of the mother's efforts and the baby's efforts, look at how some labors span many, many long suffering hours, whereas other births are short and quick.

Similar questions like these could be asked:  Does this little life, which is coming into the world, need to take his time so that he can process the experience more completely, with every step of the journey?  Or, for a person who is born quickly, do they accept the change from living en utero to living extra utero more willingly than others?

All this is not to say that a quick birth implies a quick death.  Nor does it imply that a long labor suggests that lots of suffering will come at the end of life.  For example, a person could start off their young life being a reflective processor and finish their life by being a more decisive one, due to age and wisdom.

Or, a person could start off life being carefree and instantly accepting of change and then finish their life being slow and reflective, the wisdom of their life having taught them to slow down and savor.  Indeed, personalities (our response to what happens to us) can CHANGE.

What needs to be analyzed is whether or not there is a relationship between the speed and style of a person's decision-making immediately following birth and the speed and style immediately prior to death.

The former sounds especially difficult to determine, but I do not think it needs to be.  For example, some babies decide that they are going to cry almost instantaneously.  Other babies will whimper and appear restless (this being, perhaps, a rudimentary form of contemplation and indecision) before they decide to scream and cry full-throttle.

Even near the end of life, the speed and style of a person's decision-making can be determined, if one looks closely, I believe.  An elderly person may be inconsistent in taking her medication, still unsure about whether or not she really wants to.  I have even witnessed a person (who could no longer eat through the mouth and throat) demonstrate indecision about accepting food (through a feeding tube attached to the stomach) by physically tensing up the stomach, thereby preventing its entrance into the body.  Only through the coaxing of loving friends and family that surrounded her did she then decide to allow the nutrients to enter.

So, to conclude, I have a hunch that our personality is reflected in all of our actions (at least to some degree) and that these actions include the act of being born and the act of dying.   I think a formal analysis of personality being connected to life and death ought to at least be considered.  Are there any grad students out there who would like a thesis idea?  Hehe.  :)