People Without a Life

23 Jan


The Irrelevant Disclaimer.

Everything that interests me isn’t thrilling or profound, but most of my insights come through thinking or talking about ideas– so I decided to think through some issues about people I sometimes meet who just don’t seem to be “going” anywhere. They have no life.

Life is meant to be lived.

I know this sounds glib and sort of cheeky, but it’s true nonetheless. Life is a gift. It’s a precious treasure. It’s a pearl of great price. It’s something of inestimable worth. And its value is what makes it such a terrible thing to waste.

I guess I feel this way more than usual because someone close to my family passed away this week and will be buried tomorrow. And since death is such a cold, brutal reality– the green vitality of life is a theme that’s on my mind today.

Life is a full-contact sport. But some people don’t like that aspect of it. They don’t like the rough and tumble. The bumps and bruises. The hurt and the burn. But that’s sort of like wanting to eat a big piece of cake without having to go to the gym to burn it off– we have to take the good and the bad, because the two can’t be separated. The good and bad of life represent two polarities– sort of like a magnet. Both forces are always present and they come as “part of the package.”

So, back to those without a life. There are those people we know who just won’t get into the game. Those are the ones who just ride the pines and let life bench them. The truth is that I GRIEVE for people like that. I mean, life’s simply TOO important to miss out on it.

And it’s short too– relatively speaking, anyway. The irony of it is that life seems *painfully long* for those who have no real purpose. And its *unjustly short* for those trying to ingest its fullest and drink it in.

Something I’ve noticed about people without a life is that they often fall into two broad categories. Most seem to either (1) live vicariously through others or (2) anonymously through technology.

And it’s through these two ways that they both “escape” life and “engage” it at the same time.

But each of those approaches pose a problem.

Living Vicariously. Living vicariously means that we personally never experience those actual things, themselves– except by proxy. As a result, the emotions and thrills and excitement such a person does have are second-hand, or at least one dimension removed from their own personal reality. And since it’s second-hand, ultimately that type of living won’t satisfy our innate craving for daring and drama. No, we’re hard wired for life in stereo– not mere mono. Life’s thrills, emotions, hurts, and the catharsis those things bring should be an eyewitness event, not hearsay. The best of life’s experiences shouldn’t be hand-me-downs from someone else.

Living Anonymously. Those who don’t have a life and who choose not to live their years through others’ experiences want to embrace life in all its fullness, but fear and insecurity make them want a layer of insulation from the brunt of life’s sometimes cruel realities. So they often live in the cocoon of anonymity. They try to experience depth of meaning and intimacy, but they do it in a world that is only a form of quasi-reality (Not a bad word– I should get intellectual credit for that one if you use it). This quasi-reality is the world of technology. People want to go interactive but they also want to remain anonymous. These are the people who have online identities without names or pictures. They want to know you but don’t want you to know them. They want you to see their kids on their avatar tags, but not they-themselves.

All of this to say the obvious: We need to embrace life. We need to live. We need to know– and we need to BE KNOWN. We need intimacy. Intimacy is a two-way street of giving and taking. But a person can’t be intimate if they have no identity.

And that’s really what this post is all about: That until we come to terms with ourselves, we can’t have an identity. And until we have an identity, we can’t have intimacy. And until we have both, we won’t have a life.

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