Life is that which happens to us between our birth and our death, beginning with the slap on the behind from the doctor to the obituary in the paper that our funeral will be at a certain time and place. To whom do we go to "know Life?" So often it is less educated, formally speaking, who have something worthwhile to say about the mystery of life. For life is first of all survival and the poorer are the experts at survival. So much of their time (life's sole quantitative measurements) is spent in survival that they are the experts. They are the ones with "savoir faire" (or "wisdom" in the Old Testament meaning) in the original meaning of the phrase of "knowing how to make it" when " making it" does not refer to test tube-making of life but to surviving in life.
It is the one struggling to survive who teaches the primordial mystery of life: the value of life itself. Thus looking at a new born baby (especially if it be one's own, particularly one's first, and most especially if we are observing its very birth) is so often an experience of mystery and wonder at something greater than ourselves. Not only the projections of our dreams for this bundle of possibilities, but the very fact of its living at all (when nonlife is so near temporally and physically to it) arouses the mystery in us. Ask the mother who is close to her baby of life's intrinsic value. But ask by observing her care and concern, not by direct (and therefore problem-oriented) questions.
To observe those adults who are barely making it-the poor or the drunk or the prostitute (in how low-income positions, not the new class of hired-outs that an opulent society provides for) or the sick-is to reexperience the tenuousness of life and the intrinsic value of living. These are the people who will not let go of life. They will fight for it to the end. Simply because it is there; because it is theirs. The value of life is not polluted for them 9and distracted for observers) by the "values" of the the things they possess, whether deeds or degree or domain or reputation. Theirs is a naked and open-wide struggle for all to observe: for their daily bread; for a roof from the rain and excessive sun (palm branches will do for that); for heat in cold winters; for some human communication (here wine or beer or something better helps a great deal); in short, for survival. Survival is their problem. But life, the reason for their toil, is their mystery. It is not to be confused with moralities pronouncing "good" or "bad" on their actions or their styles of life (for moralities are for others to feel justified by and that is a stage of life beyond survival). Mystery simply is. As life is. And these people feel called in their own way to live out that mystery and to survive at all costs.
So often middle-class man and women lose the sense of life as survival and therefore the mystery to which the survival problem points: life as a value to which one must say either Yes or No. The suburban "mad housewife" can so often be caught in the web of pseudosurvival problems (invariably linked with judgements, i.e., multiplied moralities pronounced by her neighbors or her husband's office-watchers) that all sense of mystery and worth seeps from her and her husband's life. Life is reduced to cleanliness and comparisons (keeping is with the Joneses" and "keeping in" with the styles). Life itself becomes a problem. A thing to solved. A new appliance to save for. A new promotion to be prepared and plotted for. Life goes on, but it is fully defined and circumscribed by the next problem to be solved. Mystery-the appreciation of life for its own sake-is excluded from the daily routine and gradually from the possibilities of one's consciousness. And this because survival is no longer a problem. Boredom and tedium haunt middle-class existence because only those freed from necessity of survival can be bored with life. Samuel Beckett's two sad tramps sitting forever under a drooping tree waiting for their lives to begin have no problems to solve but no mystery or spirit to arouse the, either.
An ultimate decision each individual can make (if his freedom is broad enough) is that "life is, or is not, worth it, i.e., that the struggle to survive, the struggle to face problems, is balanced in some way bt the mystery of life's intrinsic worth. To judge negatively is to choose suicide. Suicide is a spiritual option, a deep one at the level of mystery, for it is a positive NO to the mystery of life. As such it arouses more respect than does a nonoption, a nonchoice, a simple passing out of life "with a whimper" while still within the possibility of life; that is, an option for tedium, for boredom, for lifelessness. Suicide contradicts itself insofar as it affirms one's power to act to end life;tedium on the other hand is an affirmation of nothing, not even the power to end one's life. It is a nonaction, allowing one's world to dictate one's problems; it is far more insidious a disavowal of the mysterious than is physical suicide. It is a spiritual suicide accomplished by doing nothing, asking nothing, thinking nothing. Only a creature capable of mystery (one does not see bored dogs or cats) could opt for such a lifelessness.
*pg 31-34 On Becoming a Musical Mystical Bear - Spirituality American Style by Matthew Fox Paulist Press/Deus Book New York/Mahwah ISBN #0-8091-1913-7