Why are we living? LO30784

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@postino.up.ac.za)
Date: 11/14/03

Replying to LO30763 --

Dear Organlearners,

Fred Nickols <nickols@worldnet.att.net> wrote:

>Glad to have you back, At, and I'm looking forward to what
>I believe will be a new stream of thoughts.

Greetings dear Fred,

Thank you.

To be honest, the past eight years i often was disgusted in the
medical profession. I felt how my body was deteriorating, more than
what old age could account for. It seemed to me that the GPs were
scratching on the surface whereas they had to search deeper. It was
only a month ago when my physician, a dr Benson, finally dared to make
the final diagnoses that i had hemochromatosis. It is a build up of
iron in the body from birth until at some stage its concentration is
so high that it becomes a poison, gradually destroying all organs and

My wife began to research internet on chromatosis. Whenever she found
something new pointing to a symptom which i have, she would make a
copy and we would have a discussion on it at home. As our insight on
this disease grew, i felt how a great weight was taken off me -- to
know that you are seriously ill (the "what"), but not "why", had been
very stressing to me.

I do not expect a new stream of thoughts. But i have to admit that i
have become more sensitive to life than what i expected to be

While laying there in hospital, i remembered that my father told me
that he, as a child, observed how people had extreme difficulty in
breathing having had the "spanish flue". A couple of times i took off
the oxygen mask just to experience that difficulty in breathing. It is
terrible. I could breath only in short, flat gasps. I could not take
any deep gasps to get enough air into my lungs. Even worse was my
seeing and hearing which became like not being tuned correctly to a TV
station. A nurse became mad at me when seeing what i was doing and me
telling her why i did it. I had to promise her not to do it again.

Fred, as to the question "why are we living" you wrote:
>In my case, I think my purpose is to pass some great
>test. I don't know its precise nature but I have a sense
>that, at some point, I will be faced with a great choice
>and the choice I make will define my life for all eternity.

It makes me think of a visit which our aquarist club made to a water
purification works -- the biggest in the world since South Africa is
not blessed with abundant water resources. First the pH of the water
is raised from 7 to 11, adding a silicate to precipitate clays and
organic debris from the water. That pH is enough to dissolve one's
skin after a few days. All virii, 99% of all bacteria and 90% of all
protozoa and fungi are killed by it. Then the pH is lowered to 8 after
which the water is chlorinated. This kills the remaining bacteria as
well protozoa and fungi.

However, and i would never have expected it, some fish species make it
through all this treatment. I saw some of them with my own eyes -- not
adults, but their young! I became deeply under the impression that the
higher the order of a living species, the greater the test has to be
to show its capacity for living. As we went back to Pretoria that
evening, my mind was exploring the possibility that very soon the
human species may be put to such a test and that its adults may very
well fail the test.

But i never contemplated what you have articulated so clearly -- the
personal test for the capacity to live.
>I don't know its precise nature but I have a sense that, at
>some point, I will be faced with a great choice and the
>choice I make will define my life for all eternity. I have no
>idea when or where I will encounter that choice but I am
>confident that it will confront me and that I will recognize
>it when I see it. I like to think I will make the right choice
>when the time comes and I hope I do.

What you wrote i can apply without change to my capacity to learn. I
remember vividly how i had to make on a few occasions some choice. In
each case it was about leaving the path of traditional education to
explore some unknown path, yet knowing that it will end up in a great

>Best wishes, At. I will pray for your complete and speedy
>recovery and a long life full of many long e-mail messages.

One of the choices which i had to make in the late eighties, was to
keep to traditional academical publications refereed by peers, thus
building up a respected CV, or to explore new ways of communicatting
research. The unrefereed "letters" section of scientific academical
began to intrigue me much more than the refereed "reports" section. I
began to contemplate the possibility whether i should not put my hand
at science journalism. But before i got clarity on this, internet
arrived. It excited me beyond my wildest dreams. However, the past two
years spam is becoming some nightmare -- will internet be able to
manage it?

>I once asked God what He wanted me to do. The answer,
>in a dream, came as a charge to "Tell my son's story." The
>ambiguity of language is such that I don't know if the word
>after "my" should be son's, sons', sun's or suns'. If I ever find
>myself in His presence I will bring up this lack of precision in
>his commandment to me.

It is somewhat differently for me. When i began to study for my
teacher's diploma in higher education in 19070, one dr Kruger who
lectured us on didactics made a deep impression on me. He said that
the key to teaching is to recognise every "fruitful moment" in a
learner's life and never let it pass without acting upon it. I also
became a reborn Christian late in 1970. Since then i saw my God given
tasks not so much as "what" (1st loop of learning) to do, but "when"
(for me the 4th loop) to do them. I believed blindly that the "when"
will give me sufficient indication of the "what". I do not believe it
blindly anymore, but know from experience that it is true. So when i
pray, it is to ask God to open up my sense to recognise all the
"fruitful moments" in my "space-time slot".

Today i know something more. The art of teaching is not only to seize
these "fruitful moments", but to create the conditions for them in
advance, not knowing when they will appear or exactly what they will
require. This makes teaching most exciting.

It is strange that the translations of the New Testament which i
possess (English, Dutch, Geman and Afrikaans) do not make it as clear
to me as the original Greek version that Jesus primarily came to teach
us in words and deeds about God and God's love. This clarity begins
with people addressing Jesus as "didaskalos"=teacher. But in Afrikaans
it is translated with the seemingly more respectful "meneer"=sir. When
Jesus said" "I am the way, truth and life", exactly how much did he
implied? Enough for some others to stop him living!

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <amdelange@postino.up.ac.za> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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