Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Waiting, Wanting, Willing to Die

As we've been reading "Family Wealth Counseling: Getting to the Heart of the Matter" in preparation for figuring out what to do with our lives and as a family, we ran across the passage where "Jay" and his team ask people (mostly elderly) if the best years were before them or not, and why. Many say that the best has already been, that the good-old days were better, and that now it is mostly a waiting game. This didn't surprise me in the least.

Several years ago I was in Michigan visiting my grandparents. My grandfather was still alive and as I came into the sitting room he was there looking off into space. He did this often, and I find myself doing it too from time to time, just stilling still and thinking about who knows what. I asked him how he was doing and he replied, "Just waiting to die, Luke."

That surprised me at the time. Maybe "surprise" isn't the best word. That confused me at the time. What do you say to a statement like that?

He was old and died a few years later. He could no longer work in his coop that was his woodworking shop. I don't think he had any other activities. So he sat and thought. I have no idea what things passed through his mind, and now no one ever will. Those private thoughts have vanished into the past. My grandfather was waiting to die because the future held nothing for him.

It's not as if I've never known the thought of death, or even welcomed it. There have been several points in my life where I have wanted to die; more precisely: be dead, or better yet, never have been born. These were moments when life offered nothing. These were the times when, through whatever juvenile immaturity and perspective, the future was worse than the already terrible present and nothing good could come of it. I wanted to die because the future held nothing for me.

It is often, or perhaps only sometimes, hard to believe that "The best is yet to come" [Whit]. And that is where hopes and dreams are so important. This is the place for Mission Statements as well as practical courses of action. Without either one the future is dismal. We must have purpose and a way to accomplish this.

And this is where the Church, either the institution or the members (or likely both), has failed its congregation. The older generations must be linked with the younger. This will give purpose and pleasure to the "old fogies" and hope and direction to the "young whippersnappers". My grandfather's wisdom and thoughts may still be around if he had been connected with a few youth at his church to mentor. He may also very well be alive today.

There is one last position to death that we should probably all assume: A willingness to die. This is where another question from "Jay's" book could help us: What would you do if you knew you only had 30 days left to live? Here Martin Luther has an interesting perspective: I'd plant a tree [can't find a good reference]. Wanting or waiting to die comes from a lack of hope, but a willingness to die comes from a proper hope. The future will be better, much better. But we don't just want to bop off without making something of ourselves, and so we want to end our lives doing something that will continue beyond us, like planting a tree. And this is where connecting the generations fits so perfectly again.

Years ago while on EuroTrain (now Nexlead) someone said, "By the time you're 35 your life is no longer about you, and the sooner you realize this the better off you will be." I've long thought that, even before EuroTrain. The problem I have is how to implement my desires to help and impact others.

My current "scheme", if you will, is Production-Now.com, an on-line media mentoring program. But I'm having trouble making it "go". Anyone out there with experience want to "come alongside me" and help plant this tree of mine?

~Luke Holzmann


Mindy said...

Re ur entry on grandpa:I have planted 2 trees, they are the roots of 2 fine sons,who both now have seedlings too,and tho'I dont fear death, it's the WAY of death I fear. You make me think Luke(Tharien) Thank you :-) I hope you read this reply xx

Luke said...


So glad that you're reading my blog. Thanks!

I must agree with you: There are ways of dying that I would prefer to avoid. And I hadn't really considered the analogy of children as roots, but that's good. I would love to start having kids, but that has not happened yet. Must not be time.


Jay Link said...


I am glad my book stimulated your thinking. It is good to be thinking such profound thoughts at your young age. It leaves more time to do something about it.

Jay Link