Today is the third birthday I wasn’t expected to celebrate. That makes it a very happy birthday indeed.
As atheists, we travel through life with a sense of agency over it, but also with a realization of our lack of complete control. While we believe that there’s no God watching over us, at least he’s not waiting for the moment to give us the divine screw-over. Life sometime does that all on its own.
Everything happens for a reason? As my mini Magic 8 Ball might say, my reply is no.
Prayers are as useless as a rabbit’s foot (which wasn’t exactly lucky for the rabbit); you’re more likely to get an answer from that Magic 8 Ball. When we die, we expect that we’ll be buried in the ground or turned to ash…and remain that way for eternity (or at least until our remains disintegrate). We’re okay with that because we prefer the truth to a comforting fiction.
That said, we’d prefer to stay above ground as long as we can, thank you very much. But life being what it is, not everyone gets their druthers in the life expectancy department. I came about as close to dying as you can without actually snuffing it. And I’ve been told my recovery was a miracle so many times that I feel like slipping back into to a coma just to prove them wrong.
After my awakening, people kept telling me that my strength pulled me through, but at that point my recovery had nothing to do with me. Since then, I’ve been able to own my recovery because it’s taken hard work on my part, with an assist from natural selection (though I’ve joked that I’m a walking argument against survival of the fittest).
Recently, Keith commented that I’m now the strongest I’ve been in my life. And even when I don’t need the exercise for rehab, I want to continue it, anyway.
The fact is, I use to live my life as if I believed I would have another one, though I’ve been an atheist since I was fourteen. I didn’t exercise or watch what I ate, and was chronically sleep-deprived. Was staying up to read those interesting articles more important than another day of life?
I guess I could say I made up for it by sleeping in for six weeks.
Indeed, it wasn’t until I nearly died that I realized that this shit is real. There is no God, and though my life is not entirely in my hands, I have a responsibility to myself and my loved ones to take charge of what I can.
I did nothing to bring about my illness, an insinuation often hinted at by people trying to protect themselves from an intimation of their own vulnerability. But I am responsible for my reactions to it.
I think a believer would’ve asked why this has happened—was God punishing me, and if not, why did he permit this to happen? But I’ve never asked why once. Why? Because life’s a bitch sometimes. But thanks to my new focus on health and exercise, I’ll likely enjoy many more birthdays on this side of the ground.
Unless I get hit by a truck.