Where do we go from here?
In any journey there are decisions to be made. There is the easy choice and there are the more difficult choices. There are choices we feel are right. There are choices we feel are wrong. Sometimes we think only about the immediate impact of a decision. At other times we consider the long-term ramifications. There is the path not taken and the path already cleared. The choice makes all the difference.
Some people make choices that make little or no sense to the people around them. For those who have experienced death and returned, the nature of these choices is often more significant to the individual and less than rational to the casual observer. While most make choices for the benefit of their intended careers or to enhance their lifestyle or better their family life, we make them for curious reasons.
"You could always turn right."
The traffic light ahead is bright red, and yet there is a green arrow telling you that you can safely turn right at this intersection of your life. You weigh the possibilities. You had intended to drive straight on through and to continue on the road you had been travelling. You can turn right now without stopping. Is it the easy way out? Is it a temporary distraction that will eventually lead you back to the same road? Or is it a more difficult road that the green arrow is telling you to take because it is a road you need to travel? There are always questions. There are always answers. Sometimes they do not fit together.
Time is a direction.
In my own experience with death, and in most of those I have read about, time takes on a completely different meaning. The inate human fear of death disappears within those who have experienced it first hand. We know it is not something to be feared. It is part of the natural course of our existence. It is part of who we are. It is not an end or a beginning. Death is no more frightening than a promotion at work or moving to a new home. It is a change. Most people see life as a series of changes, goals and obstacles. We measure things as existence rather than as a concept called "life." Most of the obstacles of "life" become trivial. There are adjustments to be made and signs to be followed.
A person who has received the full near-death experience has obstacles of their own. Ego and denial are the two biggest obstacles to be dealt with. In many ways it is easier to live in denial of one's experience. There is a sense that others will turn away or mock you. It is part of human nature to want to "fit in" with peers and to accept one's experience means accepting that you are now quite different from most of those around you. I went through two periods of denial. The first came at the beginning, in the months after my death. For more than six months I said nothing of my experience and pretended I had never taken my own life. I attempted to live as I had before without taking pause. The only outlet was to write pages and pages of notes on the experience and then hide them where only I could find them. My second denial was less rigid, and yet it was more damaging. It happened over the course of the past three years. While I was willing to speak of the experience and reflect upon it, I was unwilling to continue on the path I had taken. It was like spending three years in a rest area along the edge of the road I needed to be on.
Ego is a different animal and must be dealt with on its own terms. There is a certain sense of security and peace that gives way to a feeling of invincibility. This may feed the ego. I have known those that let ego win.
Never regret the road not taken.
Regret is a funny thing. It drains one's resources and pours them into an empty glass that can never be filled. Choices are made and life moves forward. Everything continues to move. Everything continues to change. You don't go back, but you can find the road you lost. You can regain the path. You don't start over. You don't start from where you left off. You start back on the path from a different point. You remember the essence of the road, but so much has changed. It is necessary.
There are those who will give you a philosophy of the meaning of life. I believe that meaning can never really be determined because the question is not about the meaning of life in a general sense. The real question pertains to the meaning of your life. "All those who exist are unique, independent universes with their own truths and their own realities. Understand and accept this and you will know the answer." We can no sooner tell our neighbor what his life means than he can tell us what ours means. We interact as a key element of our being here in this frame of existence, and yet we are all our own island. We seek out people with similar interests who like similar things who share similar opinions. Yet, we can never be the same as another. We are different and so our answers are different. Our questions are different. Our paths are different.
Who made that choice for you?
The car may come to an intersection. We may have intended to go straight ahead, but the light may be red. There may be a green arrow indicating that we may safely turn right. We may be inclined to turn right. We may be less inclined to turn right when the passenger in our car tells us to stay on course. Do we make our own choices or are they the influenced by others? If we turn right when our passenger clearly states he wants to go straight, are we making a decision for him? We all influence each other and we cannot escape it. We are many islands floating on the same sea, warmed all so often by the same currents. The wind that blows through our trees is the same and the sun that shines on our beaches is the same. As such, we share in many of the same sorrows and joys. It is to be this way in this place we call home.
Some decisions are meant to be made alone. We consider the impact they have on others, but in the end we must think of ourselves. We cannot be bound constantly by how our every decision affects others. When we do we lose our sense of self and become less than human. We consider the level of impact our decisions will have. There are those who consider suicide wrong because taking your own life creates an emotional thunderstorm in the lives of those who care about us. As the extreme example, suicide represents the freedom to choose to live or die. It is your choice, and one you need to feel free to make, but the depth of upheaval such an act will cause needs to be considered. As someone who once made that choice, I understand those considerations and I felt justified in weighing my own needs against them. All choices come down to a single person in the end. Even in a vote by committee one can always resign and walk away. You always make a choice.
The only real weight is in your mind.
The only stone rests in your soul.
The only void is in the present.
Every moment is so fleeting.
Every moment gives birth to another.
And these moments weave a fabric
That grows and changes and becomes
The essence of who you are.
So many people are afraid of the essence of who they are. They make themselves busy, keeping themselves occupied, so that they never have to look within. Others are constantly introspective, tearing themselves apart with their destructive self-analysis. The focus is the thing.
Who are you?
Once you know the answer to that question, you will understand everything. No matter how much you convince yourself that you can answer the question, you aren't even close. There is a river from which we draw the water that fills the glass from which we drink. It gives us life. There is more to it than the glass and the water. Therein lies the answer.