Mike, the elevator man, and I love to talk about hunting.
We are both avid hunters and every time he stops into the office to check the elevator systems, we get to talking about the first bow hunt, or the noise this eight point deer made as it rubbed its horns against the tree, or the right way to call in a turkey. This week Mike told me about his disabled relative that still hunts. The boy cannot walk. He sits in a wheelchair. Most of us know that wheelchairs and woods do not mix. Especially if you are trying to find that remote game trail and keep quiet while doing it. But Mike’s relative will pull himself onto a four-wheeler and drive into a nice spot in the woods to hunt. It is illegal to hunt this way, unless you are handicapped, and he always gets grief from the DEC who thinks he is hunting illegally. Invariably, they will approach him right across his game trails. Still, he loves to hunt so much, he puts up with whatever he has to do to get out in the woods.
Admirable, because an injury is a good reason not to do the things you love. I vividly remember the opening scene in Dances With Wolves, where Kevin Costner has a bullet wound in his leg. During the Civil War doctors thought the best chance of survival was amputating the limb. But Kevin did not want to lose the leg. He saw other men walking around with crutches or with wooden legs and he pulled on his boot and rode his horse directly at the Confederate soldiers, preferring death to losing his leg and becoming less of a man. I remember this scene, not only for the evocative character and daring dash, but because I can sympathize with the idea. I could not imagine losing my leg. It would be like I was a different person, a lesser person.
However, as I think deeper, I realize this is farthest from the truth. Cutting off my leg does not change who I am. I still love the same things. I still think the same. I still have the same values. Of course, my response to the loss of my leg can change who I am inside, but the key there is that the choice is up to me how I respond and if I change.
Look at it this way. Let us say I am on trial during the Inquisition and am in the process of being tortured for my beliefs. They want me to renounce my belief in God and turn in my wife who they say is a heathen accused of blasphemy. Let us say I know this is the farthest from the truth, and I dearly believe in the ideal of truth and desperately love my wife.
They start by cutting off my fingers. Then they turn to my hands, my arm, my legs. And finally, as I lay there on the stone table, the life pumping in red waves from what is left of my ragged body, they begin to disembowel me. I still love my wife. I still believe in God. I still cherish and love and think the same way as I did moments before.
What I am getting at here is that we are not just physical bodies. They are simply vehicles for something deeper, something much stronger and more lasting. Our spirits.
Now this is an important revelation and understanding, because when we realize it, we gain more control over the circumstances and quality of our lives. Many of us will say, “Sure, I know I have a spirit.” But few of us live like we do.
Don’t believe me on these last two points? Stay tuned to next week to learn some common ways we forget about our spirit and how living with the realization that we are more than just our bodies can increase the quality of our marraige, sex, self worth, and simple joys.
*Republished with permission from the Opinion Guy, 2008
© Seth Crossman