Who or what would you die for? Who or what would you give up your life for?
Sound like the same question? They’re not, not really.
Only a certain type of person would actually consciously die for another, or for a cause or ideal. In my humble opinion, this includes almost all military members who would die for our country, our constitution, our freedom – for us. It would also include many that we call “first responders” – police, firefighters, search-and-rescue personnel, even some paramedics/EMTs, perhaps some doctors and nurses. Less frequently would it include others, but those who would willingly die for another or for a cause usually are in the business of serving others (teachers come to mind).
Of course most parents would say they are willing to die for their children. Many individuals may be willing to die for family, perhaps some friends.
So how does this differ from giving up your life?
Well, the main thing is that you don’t have to die.
That’s right. Anyone who is a parent has given up his or her life for their children the moment they conceived. If you are a parent, you’ve decided to change your entire life to accommodate another being. While I have absolutely no idea of the statistics involved, I would say that the majority of parents don’t really believe they’ve given up anything to have children. Most view their children as a joyous addition to their life, perhaps bettering it rather than changing it in any negative way.
I’m a mom and I most certainly gave up my life for my children. Of course, I gave up my life for my husband first (talking about the ex in this case). I didn’t really have any set plans for my life, but suddenly, by getting married and starting a family, I had to focus on goals that included everyone’s well-being, not just my own. There were things that I would have liked to have, things I might have done differently, places I might have traveled if I hadn’t chosen to alter my life so completely when I did.
Do I have regrets? Sometimes. Not all of them are selfish. I actually regret not giving more to my kids while we were still a family. I didn’t take them on vacations like a lot of families do. I didn’t get them involved in a ton of extra-curricular activities – well, Scott had a couple things that he seemed to enjoy (bowling and band). I didn’t become the mom to whose house all the neighborhood kids would flock because it was a great place to hang out and play. I didn’t get involved in very many school activities with the boys. There’s lots of things I didn’t do for them that I regret.
Looking back, I think I tried too hard to lead a life that my family, or society, or some- unknown “one” expected of me … go to college, get married, get a job, get a house, have a family… I wasn’t good at saying “no”, always wanted to please everyone else, thought I had to put others and their expectations of me before I could have the things I wanted.
Looking back, I think I would do things differently.
Now, I know that in the paradox of going back in time and making even one small change, the ripples spread out like those upon still waters when a pebble is cast in. I know that any one change would mean that I would end up without my sons, or at least not the sons that I actually have. I can’t imagine life without them in it, specifically them. So I would want to change things about my life, but keep them a part of it. I know…can’t be done.
Since I can’t go back, I opt to look forward. Now that my boys are grown, I find I have time and opportunity to pursue things I would maybe have liked to do when I was younger. Not all of them are feasible, but then, my interests have shifted over the years and the things I enjoy fit my life quite well right now.
What I would want my boys to take away from reading this story is that they should be pursuing the things they love RIGHT NOW. Don’t do something because you feel pressured by others to do it, but because you are doing it for yourself. I know neither of my boys have yet found their calling – don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. So in the mean time, they have to work at jobs that maybe they didn’t see themselves in and don’t really like. So long as they realize that those jobs are a means to an end, it’s okay. They can use the money from those jobs to live independently and hopefully enjoy themselves in their off-hours. Eventually, I hope they both find out what it is they love and are able to make that their life’s work. After that, then if they choose, they can pursue the people they want to share that life with. At the time of this writing, Sean is in a serious relationship, and I hope it continues to go well for him. I hope he never feels like he has to stay in it if he realizes that it is holding him back from pursuing some dream that he could yet reach.
Getting back to the questions at the beginning of this post, I have already given up my life for others, but there are people and things that I would die for, too. Of course I would die for my children and my family. As an officer in the military I swore to defend the constitution and our freedom. I would die for that as well. I could even see myself dying for a stranger in the face of some violence, though I hope that I get a few rounds off before my demise.
What or who would you die for?