One of my friends asked me after reading my essay Traversing Liminality Through Walking how I navigated myself out of spiritual ambiguity. Honestly, I don’t think I have come out of ambiguity, but there are a couple of things that helped me navigate uncertainty in this area of my life.
The first was discovering the power of presence and meditation. These two things made me aware of what happens between my ears. They helped me realize that what I think is out of my control but it is what I pay attention to that I can control. Meditation gave me the tool to distance myself from my thoughts and, therefore, find peace. From this silence comes contemplation and all sorts of possibilities. I discovered that the more I stayed in the present moment, the less pain I feel.
The second thing that helped me navigate uncertainty was falling in love with philosophy. Purpose is a big thing to me. Because I was suicidal. And when we are suicidal, it is purpose that saves us. Now, although I have a love-hate relationship with metaphysics because it fosters hatred among people, it was seminal in finding a way out of despair.
I was constantly asking myself, what is my purpose? Or more specifically, what is the reason for me not to kill myself? Now, for many, the existence of God is necessary to answer the question. I empathize with them. It is a popular and easy option, which is also logical. But it also means that there is a predetermined purpose for me.
The alternative, I discovered, is existentialism, which might seem bleak at first: life is inherently meaningless. Meaning does not arise from outside of us but inside of us. There is no large purpose behind the universe but that is okay. Meaningful living is possible despite meaninglessness. We can get by with the little meaning we are capable of creating. We can get going.
I could’ve killed myself in 2011 when the depression was really bad. But if I did that I may not have met the people I hold dear now and traveled all those places and experienced all those experiences. So looking back if the depression happens again and I am suicidal, I don’t have to believe in God to continue going, I just have to remember that this life is so short anyway and I’ll be gone soon but there’s so much I want to do to make it meaningful and giving up now is a waste.
This is were art, specifically writing, enters. For me, the arts is here to convince me not to kill myself. I can’t kill myself now because there is so much more beauty to see and create. This keeps me going. Aside from this, relationships are big too. Life is so much easier surrounded by good people.