Is it Newton's third law? For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
A friend of mine recently posted incredible photos involving his jump from a plane. I imagine he had it on his bucket list and wanted everyone to see this amazing, but not surprising achievement. I say not surprising because this is someone who does the inconceivable on a regular basis. In fact, he may even be on one of those waiting lists to ride a rocket into space or he’s currently hiring Sherpas for his hike up K2. Anyway, this post is about a joke he made under his photos about the word he used all the way to the ground. His jump was on a sunny day with favorable conditions and another jumper held onto him with the parachute. In other words, he had a 99% chance of surviving the jump and thank goodness, everything worked out fine. And yet--I can’t really blame him for this but he shouted the word--the f-word—all the way down.
I told this story to another friend of mine who told me that most of the garbled speak on the black boxes they fish out of the ocean or dig out of the ash-filled rubble have nothing but curse words on the tapes. This of course, made me wonder, how I would react, had I jumped from a plane or had landed upside down in a cornfield. When a truck is coming at us, crossing the center divide and it looks like we’re ready to meet our maker, will we use the worst profanity we know how to utter? Is this subject too morbid to think about or should we address this dire situation before it’s too late?
I pushed my devout friend and wondered how she would react. We both laughed and agreed, that instead of asking the Lord to forgive our sins or perhaps taking those last precious moments to beg for His divine mercy before committing our weary souls to Heaven, we’d be cursing like sailors. So I asked her if she had any ideas about how to deal with our last minute situation, to which she replied, “We need to practice.”
Practice? This left me in a quandary worse than before, when I naively thought my two Chihuahuas would stop fighting some day and peace would reign over the entire world. How do you suppose I should practice? I’ve listened to the clap of thunder hit close by and felt my body shake uncontrollably with fear, while my brain knew I was safe inside a building. Even the logical aspects couldn’t control my severe subconscious response. At least with thunder, there’s the comforting time lapse of one-Mississippi- two Mississippi- three, etc. to reassure us the storm is heading farther away. This doesn’t mean I don’t use expletives but as I age, my response to the thunder controls some of the shaking. Google says that the chance of being hit by lightening in California is 1 in 7,538,382, odds strangely similar to the California lotto. But let’s not digress because this is serious.
I’m assuming prayer or meditation is part of the “practice” equation but still, isn’t it asking too much of the human brain to stop a normal fear of death during an emotional goodbye? The Bible tells us to “Fear Not,” over three hundred times but our brain synapses can detect danger, which in turn sends impulsive warnings to our vocal chords. Even if we logically and faithfully say we don’t fear death, can we train ourselves not to curse in our final moments? After all, doesn’t it sound like a good idea to be heading to the Pearly Gates without vulgarities flying left and right? Do you have any suggestions?