One of my favorite movie series of all time is the Indiana Jones trilogy. And yes, I say trilogy because that fourth one they did was a big load of junk and I don’t even count it. Sorry, not sorry, Shia LaBeouf. If you remember Temple of Doom, you will no doubt remember the tunnel of bugs scene. In that scene, Dr. Jones and “Shorty” go through a tunnel, which was connected to the room they were assigned in the Indian temple. They walk to a steady CRUNCH-CRUNCH sound. Shorty thinks they are stepping on fortune cookies. When Jones lights a match, you see that they are stepping on thousands, nay MILLIONS of nasty creepy crawly bugs of all shapes and sizes. (EEEEEEEKKKK!!!!) I feel the need to go shake my clothes out at this moment, just thinking about it.
Several months I went running alone before work. Unfortunately, it was the time of year when it is still pitch black at 5AM. On some of the mornings before, I ran without a headlamp or any kind of light and almost twisted my ankle a couple of times, stepping on uneven pavement or on debris on the sidewalk. This particular morning, I wore my headlamp and learned an important life lesson.
Without the headlamp, I saw only shadows. I only heard scurrying of feet and little critters in the woods. Without the headlamp, I was left to my imagination. I was left wondering what was around the bend, what just jumped off the sidewalk, what just darted in front of me.
With the headlamp, however, I saw everything…some of which was worse than the not knowing! I saw beady eyes of all shapes and sizes. I’m sure most of them were rabbits, squirrels, cats and the occasional fox or possum, but seeing all the glowing eyes was a bit disconcerting. At least most of them ran away! With the lamp, I saw all the spider webs, all the “poo” left on the sidewalks and trails, all the animal tracks, all the litter, and all the evidence that I was not alone.
When I got home, I told my husband that I didn’t know which one was worse – not knowing what all was out there and being blissfully ignorant, or knowing EXACTLY what was out there and being keenly aware of it the whole time.
I still don’t know which one is scarier, but I do know this: once you shine a light on things and once you know things, you cannot un-know it. Even if I chose to run without a headlamp ever again, I cannot un-know about all the critters, the webs, and the creepy-crawlies. I can’t forget about the one set of eyes that slowly and calmly watched me run by (EEEEEEK! Let’s just pretend it was a fox, ok?). I can deny that it happened, I can act as though I have forgotten, but I can’t forget knowing what’s out there. Once you shine the light on the darkness of things, you’ve forever changed your perspective. Most of the time, this is good. Overall, I think knowledge is always better than ignorance. However, there are also some things in life that maybe you just don’t need to know. Light exposes the truth. Light exposes reality. Light exposes EVERYTHING, good, bad, and ugly.
There is a myriad of applications of this to our lives. The apostle Paul addressed this idea in his letter to the Ephesians. In Ephesians 5:8-14, he said that evil deeds are those of darkness and it is our job to shine the light of Jesus on such things. It is our job to expose these things in ourselves and rid ourselves of dark things. The Bible is full of the comparison of light and darkness.
Even the Star Wars movies show us the epic battle between light and dark. The dark side is full of evil and deception. The light of the Force brings enlightenment, happiness, and some awesome fight scenes, I might add!
Shining light on things brings us awareness. In the darkness, you are unaware, ignorant, oblivious, and naive. In our lives, we have periods or areas of darkness. When I was 20, I didn’t think about life insurance or life savings, but now that I’m older and have a family, I understand the importance of those things. Even if I choose to not make good decisions about those things, I cannot un-know their importance or at least their existence.
That’s how I’ve seen my job as an attorney. My job is to help shine the light on things about which you may not know. If you’ve spent more than ten minutes with me, you’ve probably heard me “preach” about how everybody needs to be proactive with their life plans and their estate plans. You need to make your family aware of what you’d want to happen if you were in a medically irreversible coma. You need to talk to your family and have things written down. You need to engage an attorney, a CPA, or some kind of professional to help you take care of your family.
You see, I’ve been there. I’ve been in the ICU waiting room when families are blind-sided with “the news” and they only then begin to have the discussion of what Dad would have wanted. I’ve seen the look on their faces when they realize he didn’t make any plans. I’ve seen people panic when they realize Mom’s dementia is so bad that she can’t legally sign that Power of Attorney that has been sitting on the desk for two years. I’ve seen people agonize over the fine print of their insurance paperwork, while sitting in the hospital, wondering why they didn’t pay just a little more for some extra coverage. I’ve seen families divided because they disagree on what their parents would have wanted to do with their belongings.
You see, those are things I cannot UN-KNOW. Once you see these things, you are affected. I am forever affected, and I hope none of you ever have to go through something like that. Those things have come into the light for me and my perspective is forever changed.
Here’s my advice: (And let the record show that I don’t care what attorney you use. Just get it done! This is just my opinion and my opinion in a blog post is not legal advice for your specific situation.)
- Get a Will – if you have children, be very specific about what you want each of them to have and if you have minor children, be sure you appoint a guardian for them.
- Get a Living Will – This will tell your doctors what you want to happen if you can’t make decisions for yourself. You don’t want your family agonizing and feeling guilty over medical decisions. Make those for yourself BEFORE something happens.
- Get a Healthcare Power of Attorney – this will allow somebody else to step in and make medical decisions for you if you can’t make them yourself.
- Get a Power of Attorney – This will allow a trusted person to make certain decisions for you. This can be very limited or quite broad.
Friends, now you know. The light has been turned on. You’re not ignorant or oblivious. You cannot pretend you’re walking on fortune cookies any more. You can’t pretend that the rustling in the bushes is just a precious little bunny. You can’t say “Well, nobody told me” because I just did. You can’t say “Well, I wish I had known.” You know. Now go take care of your family!
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” – Maya Angelou