D.O.A. Dead on arrival. A morbid term the medical field uses to note when someone shows up in the hospital, but they have died before arriving. It’s what doctors thought about an African man who had been very ill and one day was found on the floor by family, unresponsive. The ambulance was called and the man was pronounced dead, and taken to the city morgue. After a few days later, the undertaker went to prepare him for an autopsy and was startled to find the man had a pulse and was breathing. Because these vital signs were so faint, they had been missed in the initial examination. He was then able to get medical attention and make a recovery. It got me thinking about what it means to be alive…fully alive.
Some of the clients I see as a psychologist come through my door D.O.A.: depressed on arrival. Externally they would be diagnosed as clinically depressed, but more concerning is that internally, they are also D.O.A, dead on arrival, as a human being. Somewhere along the way they lost the essence of themselves and have been shuffling through life looking very dead to those around them.
Sure, if you are reading this blog you undoubtedly have a pulse but are you living? Often when people are confronted with imminent death they pull out their list of things they wanted to do, say or be and pursue them with a passion. Unfortunately, most go through life quietly unfulfilled, almost dead, as they rationalize or ignore their hopes and dreams. I think this is the basis for most “mid-life” crisis moments that can often lead to erratic or destructive choices. Some suggest that often infidelity is rooted in this desire to break free and bring to life parts that had been laying near death for decades. While not always so conspicuously destructive, others will choose food, exercise, pornography, volunteer work, alcohol or other means to anesthetize this living part of us that pushes to be acknowledged and brought into life.
So where have you given up on yourself and robbed yourself and others of the greatest gift you could give: A fully alive and present “you”? This includes your hopes and dreams but also being fully present and available for a relationship. While goals and challenges are often on a person’s list of things to do before they die, even more common, is the wish to have more time with friends and family connecting. What holds you back from being fully alive and is what holds you back more powerful than arriving at death’s door already dead on arrival (D.O.A.)? As long as you have a pulse there is a second chance. Live life alive!