Going to the ER (existential reflection )

Today I went to the ER at a local hospital. I was working and doing the usual thing when all of a sudden I started feeling pressure on my chest and shortness of breath. I asked a nurse that works with me to check my blood pressure and it was too low. I continued to feel light headedness and exhibited shallow breathing. I was starting to faint. They insisted on calling paramedics for me.

A thousand thoughts came through my mind. I really thought I was dying. So I asked the nurses to tell my wife I love her. Paramedics came quickly and took my vital signs and was still too low. I was about to faint. The world became darker and quieter. They transported me to the hospital in no time.

I then had a major existential moment, especially about dying. I reflected deeply about my state of existence. What will happen to my family if I die? Will they be ok in my absence? Will they have a different father in the future ? What about all the things I haven’t accomplished yet in life? Will I get a second chance?

And the greatest question of all: Will I face my creator or simply be in an empty state of eternal nothingness ?

Even during the time that I was riding in the ambulance I kept thinking about facing death. If this was a heart attack, it’s amazing how a small organ can determine if I live or die.

I have contemplated a lot about this subject for a long time. But this was like the culmination. This was like : “Alright, this is it!”

I have been moved to a room now. Heart rate and blood pressure are back to normal. Doctor wants me to do a stress test in the morning and go from there. I had one before, but not to this extent. I’ve met so many medical staff members since I’ve been here, including paramedics , doctors and nurses. And they have all been very nice. Not sure how the medical bill will be. Trying not to think about that so much .

So I’m still reflecting on this profound subject . And I don’t think it can get any deeper than this. What other profound topic can intrigue us and paralyze us and scare us more than what dying really means? But death itself is not the greatest mystery, but rather this existence we call “Life.”

I kept tearing up every time I thought of my family and loved ones. It was almost as if I was reminded about the fragility of life. About the importance of keeping loved ones together. About living one step at a time …and not letting small stuff get the best of me.

My family came to visit me. That was an emotional and precious moment for me. I had coworkers and friends text me. That was a good feeling.

This may have been a wake up call. A drastic reminder of this existence. It was definitely scary. It was a teaching moment. It taught me to let go. To not sweat the small stuff. And to live each moment.

As if it was the last.

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It’s (almost) all in our heads

Imagine living in a comic strip where every scene and character is in a separate box, with bubbles above everyone depicting and showing what everyone’s saying and thinking . What the reader would see in the pictures themselves is what is truly happening. What the reader reads inside each bubble above characters’ heads is what the character’s interpretation of what is happening . In other words, what’s inside their minds.

In their heads.

And this is exactly how we all live in our lives: inside of our heads.

Think about it. In your head. If you meet somebody and talk to them for a while and then walk away, you will still have the image of that person in your mind , but not the actual person. When you go to a restaurant and have the wrong plate served to you, you would have an unpleasant image of the restaurant in your mind for a while , but not the actual restaurant.

We fabricate what we decide to interpret in our heads, including people, places, things, and ideas. But we do it so automatically that we don’t notice it. So we live life constantly living and experiencing what our minds interpret, not what is truly out there.

We also create all these labels and ideas in our heads which helps us to identify with something. It could be gender , race, culture, religion, fashion, sports, or a combination of any of these .

It is the same as saying that we create our own realities. We assume that the ideas and images we have in our heads is really “out there.” But it’s not. It is in our minds. So we continue to live the delusions that our minds automatically create. And every time we encounter a new experience, either meeting a new friend, getting a new job, reading the news, or visiting another country , we process what we experience based on our delusions. We filter everything through our biased minds; through our preconceived notions.

It takes a large amount of courage and independent thinking to put our biased preconceived notions aside and experience life as it really is.

Mindfully.

When we meet someone with a different political or religious view, do we see them through our biased mind and delusion , and therefore, judge them as being wrong and delusional themselves? Or can we try to experience them with appreciation and unbiased acceptance ? We don’t have to agree, but we can certainly accept them as fellow human beings worth of respect.

I was seeing a video about a community that believes that the earth is not a globe, but rather a flat plane. My automatic preconceived respond would be to perceive them as ridiculous. But if I put my biased mind aside, I should be able to listen and accept their views even if they’re different than mine. And by doing so, I would be experiencing this moment in life outside of my mind; free from my own created delusions . Even though I still don’t agree with their views .

So stepping aside and experiencing every moment without biased is a difficult task; but it is essential

Is God love?

If God is love (1 John 4:8) , and Love is patient, kind, and does not keep record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:4-8), then why would God be impatient , unkind, and keep records of our sins to the point of punishing us eternally in hell?

We are owned

We think we are free entities.

We believe we have the freedom to choose what we want. We think we have free will and can make our own decisions.

But, we are wrong .

Think about this.

You believe you are an individual, unique person? In the United States (can’t speak for other countries) we are assigned a number when we are born. It is called the “social security number.”

You think you can independently identify yourself? We are also assigned to have a label, it is called “first and last name.”

You think you have freedom to choose your way of life ? Most families raise their children in a religious or cultural organized system and tell them what to believe. They are also taught how to view the world , and it becomes their reality.

You believe you can do whatever you want without restrictions in this society? In reality, we cannot do most things without the government’s permission.

We are not allowed to drive a car unless we have a government appointed license, which we physically have to carry with us every time we drive.

We cannot get an education unless we are assigned a school or a private certified teacher and a student number.

We obtain a job only if we have a government given identification card and ( you guessed it) a social security card.

We cannot get officially married unless the government gives us a marriage certificate. Or have and adopt children without the government forcing us to appoint them a birth certificate or permission ( and a fee) to adopt.

We cannot buy groceries unless we have a currency or food stamp card fabricated only by the government . Even if you go to a food bank, you have to present a government given identification.

We cannot even travel to other countries unless this government gives us the ok to do so through a passport .

Your fingerprints serve as further evidence that the government knows who you are.

We cannot vote for whoever runs in government without being registered by the government itself to vote.

We cannot fish, hunt, carry a weapon, own a farm , or climb a mountain without some sort of government intervention.

We have to dress up a certain way and refrain from being completely naked in public if we don’t want someone to report us to authorities .

We cannot even be homeless without worrying about a government official telling us where we cannot sleep or obtain food, which are basic needs.

Sounds extreme? I agree , but that’s the way it actually is in today’s society.

In summary , we are not free human beings after all.

We are basically owned by the government .

The Reason We Fear Death

Why do we fear death ?

Death is the only certain thing that brings up the ultimate uncertainty .

It is the ultimate mystery of this existence .

Death is the only experience we cannot control or prevent .

Maybe that is why we fear it so much… because we cannot control it. And because we don’t understand or know for sure what it will bring afterwards.

We merely comprehend it as the final stage in this limited awareness we call Life.

It seems as if it’s the end of our identity.

And the identity we were told we have from the beginning and we constantly defend during our lives is what is always threatened by the inevitable death.

What and who will we become upon death?

What kind of awareness, if any, will we experience when death arrives?

It is this and other similar questions that make us ponder and fear the only experience we have no choice but to accept.

We can deny it, fight it, ignore it, hope it never comes. But at the end it always wins.

We can choose our careers, our friends , our hobbies , our political and philosophical views . But we cannot chose wether to die or not . It is the end of all experiences.

Or is it?

Waiting for my Dad to die

I am currently going through a difficult time… I was recently informed that my Dad, which I call Papi, may be in his death bed now. He has been living in a nursing home and was not eating well.. His potassium level was elevated . He was rushed to the hospital. Now his kidneys are failing and is dehydrated and the doctors gave him a 15-20% chance of survival .

This is hard . I’ve never had anyone so close to me in the process of dying . It’s incredible the amount of emotional pain this brings. Although I’ve not seen him for many years , it still hurts a lot . I have my moments of calm and serenity , but then there are the other moments of pure sorrow and grief. I think about the few times we spent together and the things I learned from him. It wasn’t much actually , since my parents were separated and then divorced most of my life. But it still causes a great deal of sadness not being able to see him like he once was.

I once wrote a post about grief, which i define as feeling sorry for missing the lost person. And I can admit I feel sad and distraught, not because my Dad is necessarily suffering, but because I miss him. I wish I would have spent more time with him. I wish I would have known him and that my children would have known him more.

So now I’m waiting. Waiting for some news about his recovery or his departure. It is torture is some way. But I feel confident that he will be in a peaceful place now.

Update: I received the dreadful news that Papi passed away… I’m distraught . I have crying spells . Can’t concentrate half of the time. But I’m doing ok. Sometimes I wonder if this is a test. An accident. Or a teaching moment.

I just attended his funeral and burial. It’s hard to see my brothers and mom crying. It is a moment I’m never forgetting. Wish I could’ve spent more time with Papi. I feel I did not get to know him . Life’s circumstances prevented me from seeing him more often. He wasn’t part of most of my life .

Yet I miss him and wish I could have at least say goodbye to him.

Miss you, Papi.

We can do better 

We humans constantly deceive ourselves with false ideas.  We trap ourselves with fabricated concepts about who we are and what we are supposed to be.  This existence we call “Life” is a great mystery that few of us consider exploring further than what our five senses allow us to .  

We complain of feeling depressed.  That’s simply our habit of focusing too much on the past that we regret. It is also our selfish way of thinking only about our perceived mysery which is masked by hopelessness.  We are basically trapped in our own living hell, refusing to look beyond ourselves. 

We miss the big picture . 

We complain of feeling anxious and nervous. That’s simply our habit of focusing  too much on an unfavorable  future which will never happen.  It is also our selfish way of thinking about our own perceived  vulnerability and limitations which is masked by helplessness and fear. It paralyzes us, so we make ourselves stagnated in our own ruminating thoughts.  We are basically trapped in our own living hell , refusing to look beyond ourselves. 

We miss the big picture. 

So we tend to create our own addictions to temporarily and superficially cope with the mysery. We become slaves of technology, slaves of substances , slaves of unhealthy relationships .  We fill our minds with more junk that come from the media, religion, and politics.  We dig a hole in the ground and stick our heads pretending we are okay when in reality we are drowning in our own created hell. 

We miss the big picture . 

But we have a choice. 

We can look beyond ourselves and start looking at the bigger picture.  We can start by accepting our mortality and be ok with it.  We can consider the fact that we are not alone in this existence and start helping each other instead . We can escape from our own selfish mysery. 

Donate . Volunteer .  Visit.  Assist.  Serve. 

Reach out to others in need and we will automatically be helping ourselves.  Like living cells that help each other to maintain the organism alive.  Our planet is the organism. 

When death comes, let’s mourn together. When hunger and disaster strike us, let’s assist each other . When blessings come, let’s celebrate together.  Let us embrace our humanness, including our  limitations along with our strengths. 

Not in our own selfish, individual mysery.  But collectively and selflessly in cooperation.  

Let us embrace our fellow human beings.