What the Dead Don’t Know

Does anyone know when they have died? A lot of people have had experiences when they thought they were going to die, or about to die, but has anyone who has actually died known that they were indeed, dead? I believe that the answers are overwhelmingly on the side of no.

This weekend I saw the newest installation of the Mission Impossible series, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout.” Though I watched it less than 48 hours ago, I had to search the title of the film online to know what it was called. My experience while watching the movie was interesting, and one that I usually don’t experience while watching a movie, especially when it’s in theaters. For nearly the entire duration of the film, I was keenly aware that I was watching a film. The movie magic was missing. The moment when you forget that you are watching a movie because you are so engrossed in the story, the characters, the emotions, and the action of the film, never fully occurred. I have several simple theories as to why. First, I had just finished a two-day conference that had been incredibly inspiring and informative. Second, I had already sat for the previous ten hours of my day. Third, I was more interested in talking to the person I saw the movie with, than watching a movie with them.

Now, going to see a movie isn’t a problem; originally, when I was invited I was excited to see it. Even stranger, I was still excited to see the movie until about five minutes into it. The problem isn’t even the movie itself (though if my memory serves me accurately, this film is the weakest in the franchise). The problem for me was what the movie represented to me personally. Distraction.

If you’re anything like me, or the average American, you consume too much media. Even if you don’t consume the amount of media/entertainment that I or the average American does, I would argue that you still consume too much, because we have set the bar so high…. We are a people that consume more than we create.

Listening to leaders at the conference from around the world discuss the incredible work they are doing, the challenges they are facing and conquering, lives they have changed, and the lessons they have learned along the way, was transformative. Speaker after speaker caused me to pause and ponder how exactly have they been able to imagine these ideas, let alone execute them.

I woke up on the morning of day two feeling more excited than I had about the first day of a recent vacation, and that trip was awesome! However, I have learned that you can journey to the far corners of the earth, and if you aren’t alive while doing so, no journey will be long enough or exciting enough to change the death that is inside of you.

What death? The death of your dreams, your hopes, your goals, your purpose, your mission, your individuality. The death of you.

I’ll risk that this may all come across in too dramatic a fashion (like an action movie series that has grossed over $3 billion), but how many of us have died without even realizing it? How many of us have traded in our dreams for security and comfort? How many of us feel fine because the bills are paid and the checklist of a perfectly respectable ordinary life has been checked? And when we feel bad or bored with the way things are, we busy ourselves with obligations or distractions.

Sitting in that theater, I saw a sight that was all too familiar and personal, just on a magnified scale: bystanders to the action. All the adventure was elsewhere being enjoyed by others, while we sat comfortably in our chairs, food and drinks in hand, wondering what “they” were going to do next.

Leaving the theater, the man in front of me opened the door to exit and said to no one in particular, “Well, back to our boring lives.” Unfortunately, what he failed to realize was that his life never stopped being boring, he was merely distracted from boring temporarily, and if we aren’t careful, we will one day be bored to death without even knowing it.