The Inner Bottom Line ®
A Column on Personal Choices & Ethical Dilemmas by Olive Gallagher
March 5, 2013
It’s hard for any of us to really take seriously the idea that a minute, an hour, a day, or a week from now, we could be dead. While we might talk about the prospect of it on occasion with a good friend or family member - a conversation usually prompted by the death of someone close or after seeing something in the news - it’s a surreal concept that generally doesn’t register personally.
Yet, the moment the horrific tale of the man in Florida being swallowed by a sinkhole http://is.gd/g38Edb hit the headlines, the story took off like a rocket, resonating with millions of readers.
And for good reason. When we learn of something so incredulous, we are immediately forced to imagine how that would be, how it would feel, if that was us.
Just imagine. You’re asleep or lying quietly, peacefully, in your bed in the privacy of your home, when suddenly, the earth below you falls away and you tumble down through space, swallowed up, buried alive, under tons of debris, far underground, beyond help, beyond recovery, beyond life.
Just writing that upsets me viscerally, for as someone who is severely claustrophobic due to nearly drowning as a small child, the mere idea of being enclosed in anything, a closet, a coffin, a trunk, a box, anything, causes my heart to stop and sheer, mindless panic to take over.
While we’ll thankfully, hopefully, never know what this man experienced during the last moments of his life, it doesn’t take much to imagine all kinds of horror. The only solace would be that it happened so fast he didn’t realize or know what was happening and that his death was mercifully fast.
And then, beyond this man’s death, imagine what his family is going through, left to cope with the unimaginable, and caught up in a living hell, http://is.gd/PZKpDT exacerbated by the further news, a day later, that the search to find his body was hopeless. http://is.gd/rbFGWw
Anyone who has lost a loved one suddenly, in a car or plane crash, a freak accident, a brain hemorrhage or heart attack, understands. When we don’t have time to adjust to the idea that a beloved one is in the process of dying, or is ill, terminal, or quite old, the mere shock of the news can stun and depress and anger us for a long time.
And so, at times like this, when we’re confronted with imagining what it would be like to be going through this nightmare, or even if that was us who was taken away so swiftly in such a freak accident, The Inner Bottom Line and all that it represents in each of our lives becomes invaluable and highly useful, prompting the hard questions that demand tough answers.
If you died tomorrow, what would you leave behind? What would your legacy be? A life of kindness and generosity, of consideration, love, creativity and respect? Or a life, while perhaps filled with fame or fortune or luck, touched or benefited no one but yourself; a life in which you manipulated, screwed, cheated, insulted, disrespected and generally abused the people around you for your own selfish needs and wants.
If your life is reflected more by the latter than the former, you’re dancing over a sinkhole of your own making. Because, in the end, it isn’t the houses or cars or cash or celebrity that people will remember, once the headlines turn to something else shinier and new. It will be the love and compassion and humor and goodness to give and share with others that will live on in the memories of those you touched and changed during your time on this earth; the same earth that can swallow you up whole without warning or provocation.
Think about it.
You can submit your questions or book private phone sessions with Olive at theinnerbottomline.com, call into her blogtalkradio.com show, “The Inner Bottom Line,” at 661-449-1425 with your questions, or explore her new blog at whatskeepingyouawakeatnight.com. All letters and calls can be anonymous and confidential.
Kindle and audio versions along with the hard cover of Olive’s book, The Nude Ethicist: A Simple Path to The Good Life, are now available on amazon.com.