A few days ago, I had a really meaningful, intimate, and moving conversation with a few patrons at a local poetry reading. I had performed a piece confronting suicide called “Ribbons,” and it lead to a discussion about the mental healthcare system and how it needs to factor into the equation better, which is something I advocate for quite vehemently.
Afterwards, a fellow performer, whom I’ve known for some time, pulled me aside to confide in me something: His recent struggle with suicidal thoughts.
Together, in private, we spoke at length about how life is really an overwhelmingly uncertain thing, and when presented with adverse circumstances, those uncertainties can become almost unbearable to confront. How do I know I will have a house over my head tomorrow? Where is my next meal coming from? Will this pain ever end? The truth is, you don’t. None of us do. Life is a fickle, fleeting thing, filled with things that don’t last. That can feel hopeless. What most people who feel hopeless don’t know is that EVERYONE has felt hopeless before. Everyone has felt pain so great they considered ending it all. What makes the difference is believing and that you are alone in it.
In our discourse, I realized that most of the things that occupy our lives – jobs, homes, money, cars, material things, even the people – are by nature transient. It’s the moments in between, the love shared between two friends, the smile exchanged with a child, the dinner over which we find ourselves, the conversations we share about life, those are the moments that matter. They last forever. The little bits of infinity amid the oblivion. The memories we create, the moments we share with friends and family, the ability to stand up at a microphone and see your words, your music, your creation manifest a cherished moment of equality between you and the audience, that Oneness, that’s what it’s all about. The ability to share, that’s what matters, not the matter in between.
The very same uncertainty that haunts, that looms, that threatens to smother, is the very same uncertainty that should rand you out of bed in the morning, challenging you to face it. They are empty threats. Uncertainty should be the nemesis you strive to rage against. Not knowing where the story will take you is what keeps you writing. Don’t end it.