Death of a Traveling Salesman
Although near death experiences and the moments just before death can create a deeper sense of appreciation for life, and can provide some degree of clarity regarding core values and what one considers truly valuable, it is unwise to limit such revelations and epiphanies to death-impending moments. Often times revelations about the meaning behind life can come from experiences of growth or inspiration. One of the most prevalent instances I have seen was through an example given by Christian author Tim Keller. Keller conveys the story of a wealthy banker in New York, obsessed with money, status, and reputation before attending church for the first time as a middle aged man. After a year of attendance, he claimed to have recognized that the material goods he thought defined him left him feeling empty and alone inside. After this realization, he officially joined the church, quit his job and headed a board of directors for an adoption foundation. While it can be argued that Christians often admit that they must “die to one’s self” in order to truly follow Christ, spiritual death differs significantly from physical death and often does not come in the same instantaneous burst of clarity that near death experiences can cause. However, the life-changing the end result is often the same. Moments of newfound clarity can also be found through mundane and unexpected experiences. The traveling salesman Bowman did not have his burst of revelation solely because of his heart attack. I believe even if he had been perfectly healthy and come across the happily growing family, he would have become aware of the emptiness in his life and been filled with a longing for something deeper and more eternal that he had ever experienced. For it was not the sickness that allowed for Bowman’s longing for family and stability, but the warmth and comfort he felt from the family, which he probably had never experienced or had never been open to acknowledging before. Whether it be a seemingly meaningless event or a shocking occurrence, earth-shattering experiences strike souls every day and thousands of them continue living, enjoying their new perspective.