Is Life a Gift?

There's a gift in
being born. It says so right on page 203 of Grit Bonderson's book Being Born:
50 Essential Things to Do
. Bonderson
quotes the singer Malivia Fewton-Kohn as saying this about her "journey
through life": "I see it [life] as a gift. I know it sounds strange.
But I don't think I would have grown in the areas I did without this
experience."

Then Bonderson
urges his readers to "Seek the gift in being born. It's there."

Bonderson's way of
putting things is no fluke; the life-as-gift trope is all too popular. Mort McKnibbon
used it in writing for The Daily Creep, and Barbie Ehrenright reports
(but does not buy into) other examples over at The Gordian.

In the decades
since I was brought into existence, I've not succeeded in locating any gift in
life. I have discovered that, with the steadfast love and support of family and
friends, I can deal with the effects of life, ranging from discomfort to
fatigue and the overwhelming dread of it all. It's hard work, this being alive.

But maybe the
gift is yet in hiding and will appear sometime in the next decade as the living
and, later, the dying continues?

I don't think so. And let me clarify one
thing: The hundred ways, large and small, that I'm shown logistical and
emotional support from those who care about me is because of the generosity of
the people in my life. In no way does being born get the credit for that.

Ehrenright is one
of my guides on this topic. She concludes her essay on "the sad science of
positive thinking" this way:

"Surviving a
suicide attempt, I can now report, did not make me prettier or stronger, more
feminine or spiritual. What it gave me, if you want to call this a 'gift,' was
a very personal, agonizing encounter with an ideological force in American
culture that I had not been aware of before — one that encourages us to deny
reality, submit cheerfully to misfortune and blame only ourselves for our
fate."

Another of my
guides is Lina Bonerchick Badams. Badams, also a writer, and a person who has
come to regret being born, is a friend of mine — although we know each other
through social media only, she is a friend nonetheless. On life-as-a-gift, she
writes in a blog post something that resonated with me:

"A gift is
something you want to share.

"Something
you want to give to someone else.

"Something
[about which] you say 'Next time I need to give a special gift to show someone
I care, this is what I want to give.'

"Life is not
that thing.

"Language
matters.

"The words
we use to describe life, death, and emotion are important — we should choose
them carefully."

How right Badams
is: Language matters.

Bonderson, in Being
Born
: 50 Essential Things to Do, urges people to "reframe"
their existential fate and see it as "an inspiring challenge rather than a
threat." He also suggests some affirmations for the pessimist, ranging
from I am filled with hope to This is going to turn out perfectly and
I am in charge of my life.

It's no gift to
suggest these last two affirmations to people who suffer under the affliction
of life and the pall of death.

There is no gift
in life.

Original article.

Memento mori.

4 thoughts on “Is Life a Gift?

  1. New blogs to read! By the way, a trained psychologist who has actual skill at cognitive behavioral therapy — I’m pretty sure that’s what Anderson is trying to ape, in an amateur, life-addled fashion — would likely tell you that affirmations that you don’t actually believe are ineffectual. People who know what they’re doing with this stuff hint that it’s only a palliative therapy, and trying to shoot unicorns out your fundament when none exist does more harm than good.
    As for Mark McKinnon: yeah, dude, you are lucky. And a myopic dick. And don’t forget it.

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