If you really look at what we know about this life with absolute certainty, you start to realise it’s not much. As I see it, we appear here not knowing where we came from, live for an average of 70 years without being certain of what we are exactly and then disappear. It doesn’t really matter what world view or tradition you come from, fundamentally humans don’t know for sure why we are here, where we come from and where we’re going. We all certainly do have theories and traditions that claim to answer these fundamental questions but in reality, we are never absolutely certain about the truth of any of them.
Whether you believe in an intelligent source of all things, as I do, or you are purely material in your world view, you would have to admit that mystery is a massive aspect of human existence. Yet we resist mystery daily. Sciences, religious traditions and philosophies are constantly attempting to remove mystery from the human consciousness. Yet despite our best efforts we still have no solid evidence explaining where we came from, where we are going or why we are here.
Really understanding this can trigger a profound existential crisis in the human soul. This drive to know why we are here can lead to a deep sense of futility and despair. The 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, put it this way, if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. This famous quote captures the terror of life’s mystery revealed within us.
In these moments of despair, I believe life asks us the deepest question, will you choose life or death?
In these moments of despair, I believe life asks us the deepest question, will you choose life or death? There are many men and woman walking around today as dead people. They have chosen death, by saying no to life. This is a subtle decision in the psych of mankind, and not only manifested in the large life decisions but in the small routine milieu of life. For example, do I ask her out, do I apply for the job I really want despite the fear of rejection? Do I tell him what I really feel right now? Do I learn to fly? Do I travel? Do I call an old friend?
In the heart of each of these questions life is asking you this; do you choose life now or do you choose death? Another way to pose this question is, am I acting out of fear or love in this decision? Fear is shut down, security grabbing, smallness and love is expansion, growth and greatness. We all sense the pull of each of these drives. Comfort and growth don’t seem to like each other much do they?
I have lived years with the smallness that death and fear bring to our souls and to those around us. Every time I have withheld truth, chosen safety over daring or the opinion of another person over my deepest heart-felt knowledge, I have chosen death over life. The choice towards death leads to victim-hood, in-authenticity and a sense of missing out on our purpose in life. Passion for our relationships, careers or hobbies wains and flickers out. As we make decisions based on fear we give up ownership of our lives, we trade adventure for a false sense of “innocence” and “security”.
One example from my own life was my decision to give up my career as a high school science teacher. Teaching is certainly not my passion, every day I would have to force myself to do another day, some schools were better than others but even the best classes were a chore I had to complete. I would live for the holidays basically, hoping that they would magically last for ever. I was choosing security over passion. This was my life or death decision and it took me 18 years to finally choose life.
As soon as I quit my job and choose adventure and passion I came across the perfect career change. The new job was two minutes from where I live in Maleny, it used all the skills I had developed pursuing my true passions, personal development and gave me the flexibility to pursue writing and my business. I’m not saying choosing life will always be that easy but I can guarantee you will only ever regret any decisions based solely on safety and security. Discover your passions and risk living them out, why else are you here?
Choosing life is a choice we all need to make each day, especially in those dark nights of the soul. I choose life because despite the obvious mysteries of this life, the suffering at times and the confusion, the fact that I am alive convinces me that because I’m here, well I’m damn well going to live it!
Choose life because you’re alive, take ownership of your decisions about careers, relationships and activities, dare greatly and leave no stone unturned. As the saying goes you are the master of your own destiny so commit to that journey as fully as you can, leave death to the dead, or as Jesus once said, let the dead bury the dead. You are alive so live!