Playing Dead

It’s Saturday, and I have to go to work. Just a few minutes from home, I see an odd object in the opposite side of the road. It looks like maybe a branch that’s fallen off a nearby tree. I slow as I get closer- as much to see what it is as to comply with the speed limit in a hospital zone.

It’s… an animal, an opossum. It’s perfectly still and upright. If it weren’t for the streak of red down the side of it’s face, I would have guessed it was alive. It’s not moving. It must have been flipped up on it’s haunches when it got hit by a car. I feel sorry for it.

Then, I wondered. How many of us look like we’re upright and alive, but inside, we’re really dead? What does it mean to be truly alive? Is it having a lot of friends? Is it experiencing nature close up? Is it a script: Be born, go to school, get job, get married, have kids, retire, die? Is it the kind of fear experienced on a roller coaster or the happiness of falling in love?

I maintain that life requires growth. When someone seems to be full of life, they seem to be making the most of every opportunity, finding something to enjoy and learn from every step of the way. Someone who’s full of life may be starting college at the age of 60, or making new friends on another military base. When plants cease to grow, they die. Even some of the greatest, biggest trees have been found to be diseased and dead inside.

Live! Grow! Don’t end up in the middle of the road with the appearance of life.

Of course, the animal could have been playing dead… it was a ‘possum after all.


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