Saturday, October 3, 2009

The “Lazarus Phenomenon” and Implications for the Living

“The boundaries between life and death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where one ends and where the other begins?”

–Edgar Allan Poe.

Whether we’re spiritual or not the idea of near-death experience shakes our reality. We’re awakened even for a moment to the very possibilities that are, for any human being, utterly intriguing—yet a place that scares the living daylights out of us. None of us sanely wants to die.

The “Lazarus Phenomenon” or syndrome, as it’s otherwise known, is an event where previous casualty resuscitation attempts fail yet the patient miraculously rises from death, well past when the resuscitators have given up. Medical scientific evidence is flimsy yet apparently there is Emergency Medical Journal evidence of it.[1]

The point at spirituality seems to be the shallow indifference between our ‘very solid’ perception of grasp on this reality we call “life” as compared with that of the experience of, and after, death—the “afterlife”. Edgar Allan Poe’s quote is stark for its shrill reminder of the very thin difference between life and death. Seconds and a breath, or an event like a tsunami, wash life away for the immediacy of death. It’s a very simple transaction. Even much simpler than we’d readily acknowledge.

We live life in such narrow ways to inordinately ignore and despise death, though it’s a certain reality for each living soul. “Living” is a present-tense word. It can’t be used that effectively otherwise.

We don’t tend to look at life from the object or position of death, and much more’s the pity. From this aspect we can see life as a very precious commodity indeed. We take it less for granted.

But, the key point is this. While the heart beats and we breathe and move and see and know and feel, we have opportunities today—while we still live—to seize the day and bring forth healthy exploration and exploitation of this thing called “living”. And won’t that positively shade our relationships and our activities?

Appreciating life from the death perspective is a very healthy, and not altogether a morbid, activity.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

[1] Cited from Wikipedia, “Lazarus Syndrome,” Walker, A.; H. McClelland, J. Brenchley (2001). “The Lazarus phenomenon following recreational drug use”. Emerg Med J 18: 74–75. PMID 11310473. Retrieved 2008-10-29.

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