On Twitter, I saw this plea:
Could someone please suggest reasons it’s a good idea I should keep being alive?
Reasons to keep being alive. In 140 characters.
This was a challenge I couldn’t pass up.
Chocolate. If you’re thinking of checking out, you won’t be taking your taste buds. So stick around for chocolate.
Okay, I didn’t tweet that. There was nothing humorous about the tweeter’s question, although sometimes humor can be the lifeline we need when drowning in despair.
I knew of a comedian who worked the suicide prevention hotline, and when asked, “Give me one good reason I should stay alive,” he told the caller, “Give me a break. You called me.”
Isn’t it interesting, the plea is always the same? Give me a reason to stay alive. Because being alive, in and of itself, isn’t reason enough. Being alive, for the person pleading, has become too horrible to endure.
What we really want, when we’re that desperate, is a reason to endure the pain.
I heard Bruce Lipton, the author of The Biology of Belief, say: we live in order to experience life through our senses, for God. (Or something along those lines. I jotted the phrase in the back of the book, but the book is stashed away, along with about a hundred others, in storage.)
If indeed it’s our duty to experience what God can’t, that seems like a pretty swell reason to stay alive.
Provided you believe in God.
And provided you accept that experiencing life sometimes involves the sense of pain.
I read recently: to strengthen and build muscles, we need to tax them, break them down a bit, give them time to recuperate, then tax them again. That’s how they grow.
It’s the same with life. We’re given circumstances that tax us and break us down. If we take time to recuperate, then we build our strength and grow with each new challenge.
Now, I could come up with a long list of good reasons that are meaningful to me and don’t mean squat to the person on Twitter. But somewhere in her vast file cabinet of life experiences there’s one thing that matters. Deeply.
If I had more than 140 characters, or we were talking on the phone or in person, I might have said: “Instead of thinking about ending it all, sort through your memory banks, or take a look around you, and track down that one thing that matters. By the time you find it, whatever brought you to despair will have shifted. Just enough, so the light can shine in.”
But this person chose to plead for her life on Twitter. So I replied:
Don’t choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The pain will pass. You’re meant to contribute something positive to this world.
Last I checked, the tweeter did find a good reason: she chose to start painting again. That one thing, painting, helped crack open the darkness.
If you ever find yourself backed into a corner feeling like your only option is to throw in the life towel, please please please remember this: that one thing—whether it’s your spouse, your kid, your parent, your sibling, your friend, your cat, your art, your dream, or that philodendron in the windowsill—it needs you.
Then drive down to See’s Candies, pick out a luscious piece of chocolate, and savor it. For God.