I’ve had them. I’ve had dreams of falling off a cliff, bridge, or tall building, or of drowning. Nearly dead before awaking. I’ve also had car accidents and seen my life flash before my eyes.
Once, Russell and I were out riding around on a Saturday, and we stopped off at a car lot. We were walking around looking at cars together when I suddenly realized that he was gone. I could neither see nor hear him. No one else was about, except those driving on the highway 100 feet away. I was terrified. He was less than three feet tall, in a sea of four and a half foot tall cars – I called out to him over and over, but he would not answer. At any moment he could slip out between the cars and get hit by a passing driver. I may have never felt so helpless or so stupid. My boy might die, and it would be completely my fault.
That is a near death experience. It is brief, and it resolved itself fine, as a sales person walked from around a corner and said, “Is this your boy? You should be more careful, he could get hurt.” Tell me something I don’t know!
A near death experience brings things into perspective. We typically hear the phrase used to describe or name an event where someone actually dies for a few brief moments, has some experience of out-of-body transcendence and bright lights and peace, only to flash back suddenly to consciousness. Such experiences often cause people to re-evaluate their lives and consider that they’ve gotten a second chance. That’s the point of a NDE – a second chance to live life differently:
I’ll work less and play more
I’ll spend more time with the family and less time watching tv.
I’ll devote myself more to nurturing my spiritual life.
And so on.
And that’s the problem with these recommitments. They are too much like New Year’s resolutions – earnestly made and quickly broken. One might think that after standing outside the gates of eternity – filled with either joy or dread, we would be a bit more committed. But we are creatures of habit and nothing will ever change that. The only question is what our habits will be.
So even NDEs come down to that simplest word – habit. Some habits bring joy, some keep us healthy, some keep us safe, others put us at risk. Others bring a special quality and depth to life and relationships – like the habit of sending notes to people on special occasions and no occasions. How little it costs in time, effort, and money, while bringing such gain to everyone involved. Since we were kids we have loved to get mail – it just helps us to feel special knowing that someone cared enough to go to the trouble to sit down with paper and pen, simply to say, “Hi. I’m thinking about you.”
I remember that campy movie from the 1970’s – The End – with Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise.