Friday, June 29, 2012

Should I Stay or Should I Go?


We've all been given a reason to live. Striving to find the reason why, before we die, is the big question we each face.  Are you up to the challenge?

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"Should I Stay or Should I Go?"  That's the title of a hit song from the '80's British punk-rock band, The Clash. The song, found on their album, Combat Rock, goes, "Should I stay or should I go now? If I go there will be trouble. If I stay it will be double. So come on and let me know. Should I stay or should I go?"

I have no idea if the song is a decision about suicide, a relationship, or just getting out of town. Whatever it is, it is a question we all have asked ourselves at one time or another, be it in school, work, at a party, or whatever - and it can be even deeper than that.

In the opening chapter of my novel, "Sleeping in Snow with Bears", Aimee, the weaker and more sensitive of two female protagonists, is facing her own death (from ovarian cancer) and has decided to end it all by suicide in a very lovely, gentle way. Only things don't go as she planned. The story then goes back in time and examines Mindy's life from the beginning, what her journey has been all about, the friends she has made and the decisions which have impacted the world around her – think George in "It's a Wonderful Life". But unlike George, even before her terminal diagnosis, life has kind of sucked for Mindy, and one might even wonder why she didn't kill herself earlier. It's good she didn't though. That's what the story is really all about ... why she had a reason to live up to now.

Well that's fine for fiction, but why are you here? In this world, I mean. You don't have to be suicidal to ask yourself this question. It's a pretty logical question to ask. When you think about it, the likelihood of being you; much less being conscious of that fact, the chance of you being you are near infinitesimally small.

I haven't made my point yet on the odds of you being here? Imagine what are your chances of hitting the lottery. Now consider the size and vastness of the entire universe and all. By just being here, now, you've beaten the odds by bazillions of times greater than the longest lottery odds ever (yes, I said 'bazillion' and I said 'ever').

So is there a reason you exist? Is there a chance you may find out why you exist? What your purpose is, I mean. Does each of us have a purpose? Is our purpose unique, or are we joined to others on a mission together? Will we ever know? Personally speaking, I contend there has to be a reason and we each have a role.

As people age, they tend to become more spiritual. Some go to church more and seek solace in the teachings of those who came before us and studied the matter in depth. Others study themselves more. They all ask themselves who am I, what have I done? And perhaps they ask themselves this ultimate, some might say unanswerable, question. Why am I here?

Have you asked yourself these questions yet? I'm guessing, if you live long enough, and are introspective enough, you have or someday you will. And I'd take those odds, any time, against you being here – being you - in the first place.

These are not pointless questions. For many people who find out, or at least decide what their purpose is, they may find it drives them forward. For those of us who don't find out, and many of us may never, it gives us reason to keep living ... to keep seeking.

Remember, the odds that you are here and that you know it are so small, so unlikely, it's hard to reason that it is pure chance. For that reason alone we must keep seeking. After all, we've all been given the gift of life and seeking is one of those benefits.

Let me know the answer when you find it. I'll be seeking too - so it shouldn't take so long.