On a Bridge From Life to Death, and Death to Life, Which Way Would You Go?

The Kabbalah states that sickness may serve as a bridge in two directions, from life to death and death to life. The option of a passage from death to life is a chance to return stronger and healthier than before, to be reborn, alive once more.

The teachings go so far as to indicate that every illness is embedded with the clue to the cure for that ailment. I believe that many afflictions offer this opportunity.

Take for example, the movie “Learning to Drive.†Patricia Clarkson plays the character of Wendy, a literary critic whose husband has an affair and leaves the marriage. Cluing her into the reason for his departure, he discloses that, when she did glance away from her beloved books, she looked right through him.

Ben Kingsley is Darwan, the cab driver / driving instructor with whom Wendy reluctantly takes lessons after depending on her husband for driving. By learning to drive, Wendy encounters the cure for what ailed her marriage. She becomes present, focused, mindful of the people around her, and able to take the bridge from death to life.

Another common example relates to organizational restructurings, which can lead to the reassignment of employees to ill-suited roles. Some of my corporate clients landed in this pitfall. They responded with a resolve to excel, rationalizing that persistence reliably generated positive outcomes (e.g., top performance rankings, relationship breakthroughs, promotions) throughout their careers. The truth was that their employers had rerouted onto a course that was no longer aligned with theirs. The conditions for them to thrive died out, and the opportunity cost of trying to “make it work,†was to lose touch with the value they brought, to feel diminished by a daunting sense of extinction.

The cure to their affliction was to rediscover themselves. An in-depth self-assessment process through which they validated a current definition of career compatibility set them on their way back from death to life. Many of these clients translated un or under-expressed talents into new vocations.

Whether your pain relates to a sudden loss, or a gradual decline, while life inevitably leads to some form of death, the trip from death to life often requires an expedition. Although finding a cure is uncertain, following the clues will at least point you in the direction of living. After all, doesn’t the magic of life reside in strengthening your will to live again each time that you experience death?