“Between us and heaven or hell there is only life, which is the frailest thing in the world.” – Blaise Pascal
My psychiatrist, many years ago, in his signature way of explaining brainy things to non-brainy people, explained to me once that when a person has spent many years feeling suicidal, it can become their default response under stress.
Financial trouble? Relationship woes? Frustrated with work? Stubbed your toe? ‘Dying would fix this.’
This is how conditioned the mind can become to a thought it spent many years entrenched in.
My therapist recently recommended a documentary series on Netflix called Surviving Death, which she thought may be helpful in my grieving process.
In the first episode, many individuals who had near-death experiences were interviewed. Dr. Mary Neal, crushed in a kayaking accident and clinically dead for 30+ minutes, shared how comforted and soothed she was during her time away from her body, although she was still at the scene of the accident. How she didn’t want to come back when it was time to return to her body.
My therapist was right; this brought me relief for Haylie. It helps me feel that she’s okay, and taken care of. That she’s not scared, not alone, and not far from me.
It also feels like an invitation to someone who has had a suicidal past.
We choose to live each day. To dress, to eat, to work, to communicate, to laugh, to care for others. Most of us choose it without thinking about it.
But some of us at different times in our lives choose it consciously. We remind ourselves of our reasons for being here. We remind ourselves of all we have left to do. We remind ourselves of the people we love.
If every single morning, you made a conscious choice to live instead of an automatic one, how would your days be different?
Would you say I love you more?
Would you finally sit down and work on that manuscript you’ve wanted to write for years?
Would you breathe more and scroll less?
Would you get lost in a book instead of a newscast this evening?
Would you eat your lunch in a park instead of at your desk today?
Would you turn your iPhone on silent at the end of the workday and be present with your family?
All of these choices are ours. We don’t simply choose to live every day; we choose how we live every day.
Thinking about life and death isn’t something most of us choose, it’s something most of us avoid until it’s forced upon us. Until there’s a passing close to us or a mass tragedy or a quote that stands out to us.
There are people out there consciously choosing life day after day.
What would your days look like if you did the same?
Your life, your choices.