Today is Thanksgiving 2020. I have just finished teaching a 90-minute dance fitness class and will be having socially distanced meal with my wife's parents in just under 2 hours from now (as I write this). I was going to walk the 3-4 miles to my in-laws house but this blog idea wouldn't leave me alone. It just kept ringing in my head to write it. I've learned over the years that if something stays persistent in my thoughts then I must deal with it immediately because, more often than not, someone will need exactly that thing. As for this one, I don't know if anyone needs to read this. I know I don't have a "need" to share what I think I am about to write. Notice I said think. Why? Because I literally have no idea what my crazy little brain has in mind for this message. All I know is there is a story of mine that I am (I guess) suppose to share. Oddly this is something I've never shared but with maybe one or two people ever. That being said, I know this isn't for me. I know it sounds crazy but that is the way the words flow from my finger tips into the monitor sometimes. I guess I should get to it as I need to eat and my crazy little brain keeps saying "get to it already!" So here we go.
Years ago my good friend and I were in Portland, Oregon when we stumbled across this wall art. I found it to be very cool and decided that at 6am we needed to take pictures with it. I remember saying, "I want my angel wings!" Of course my friend was game as we snapped pictures of each other in front of this beautiful piece. This morning I thought about this picture and the thought that my brain keeps wanting me to share. Here I have wings. I like to joke that it is the only time I'll have them. At least they are colorful you know. This picture makes me think about life after death (if there is one). But more importantly it makes me think of life choices that I have made and have not made up to this point. Now, one of my other good friends often says that if you (I) are (am) going to talk about really tough subjects you (I) should always give a TRIGGER WARNING. That's the warning by the way because I am going to take you into a place in my world that no more than 2 people have ever got to sit. I still don't know why I am writing this but I'm compelled to share and therefore I will.
This morning I was taken back to a Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles. I was 12-16yrs old at the time. My mom and dad had split up or even been divorced by then I really don't know for sure. To be very clear the time frame is fuzzy. The story is not. Anyway, I remember getting in trouble for something I did which isn't a shock I always seemed to just find trouble. It was rarely anything extremely bad but I got in my fair share of "WTF did you do now?" moments. I recall sitting in my room just feeling like "F" it. I stared out the window of my room and wondered for the first time ever in my life this question, that is as vivid today as it was in that room, "Wouldn't it just be better if I wasn't here?" Yes, you read that right. I as a young teen wondered if ending my life was the better option because, at the time, all I seemed to do was disappoint and hurt people. Now you may be thinking that Sean was suicidal. Technically you would be right because I did think of taking my own life but you would also be wrong which, now that I think about it, may be why I'm writing this today. Let me explain. I had no desire to kill myself. I didn't think about it because I was in pain. I didn't think about because I didn't value myself. I didn't think about it because I felt worthless or unloved. I thought about it because I didn't want to see people suffer because of me. Life, even back then, had a different meaning to me. It just is what it is. Always has been for me. Things live. Things die. I've never had a problem with the concept of death. I remember sitting there thinking how hard my mother worked and that I, at the time, had been stealing money from her purse to just do nothing. I remember seeing her face when she finally confronted me and the feeling of I had about screwing over my biggest fan just because it was there. Now that I think of it this was in the 8th-9th grade. I thought like many people who are suicidal that it wouldn't matter and the world (for my mom at least) would be better if I just wasn't here. I should also state I thought about running away at that time too but that seemed like a lot of work and I was pretty lazy in that aspect at the time hence death was the more logical choice. You see how stupid that sounds right now? It does to me looking back some 30+ years later.
The thing is my thoughts were vivid and real. I pictured the gun in my hand. I pictured being in the yard so I didn't leave a mess in the house. I pictured my very last image as the trigger pulled. If you know me very well then you know when I say I "pictured" it you know I lived it fully in my head. The better choice of words would be I felt it. I felt the heat on my temple of that fire and flash. I felt the heartbeat race and then stop. Full disclosure, I am covered in goosebumps right now writing that because just like then I can feel all again. I could feel my face hit the dirt in the backyard as I fell to the ground. The most important part is I could see my mother's face coming home that day. It was that very moment that changed the world for me. The visual of the face of someone I loved more than anything. But it was what I thought she said as she stood in the back door looking at me having done what I set to do. I simply saw her say, "why?" But it wasn't hysterical or even emotional it was disappointment in a life, that she believed in, being lost. Now, I don't imagine that is how it would of really happened but it was what I saw in my "picturing." And it was exactly what I needed to see. Had I been suicidal or depressed I might of tried to take my life that day. There was no real point that lead up to it. There would of been no signs before hand or answers to be had by anyone. I would of just done it. The truth is for me, deep down, I was never in any danger of doing it but I didn't know that in the moment. In life I didn't pull the trigger and it was because of the "why" my mother had asked after finding my body in her backyard. As I came back from visualizing this scene I connected the "why" to a question that this blog is about, Why does life matter anyway? and that brought me to another question today, What have you done?
I think about the road of life I have been on since that day. I have made many mistakes. I have broken hearts, promises and confidences. I have risked my life and others with reckless abandonment. More times than I care to admit I could of and probably should of died from my actions and choices. Yet every step down that road I took taught me about why life matters. Every step was a lesson. Every moment I learned and evolved and became more than I was before.
I didn't pull trigger because I had more to do. Not for some God or to impress my mother but because, like the woman standing in the doorway looking at my body, I know I could do so much more in the world and with my life. When she asked "why" I realized she was asking why did I waste my gift. The gift that I only can have for only as long as I live. I didn't pull the trigger because I wasn't done playing with the gift. But I was done putting that gift on the craps table to gamble for others. In that I mean putting my life's value based on others opinions or, to keep with the craps reference, their roll of the dice.
I realized that while I still would never want to disappoint my mother that my life wasn't made for her or anyone else. I don't exist without her. And I know 100% the love and dedication she (and my father) have for me and have given me. That being said, my life was mine and mine alone to live. It wasn't to impress anyone. It wasn't to show off my riches, my skills, my hopes and dreams. No, it was for me to decide what I wanted to do with it until it was time for me to, well, stop living either by choice or by life. I came to the conclusion the purpose of life was to live to what speaks to my soul and spirit. But I come back to the other question, what have I done?
As I sit here in this space thinking about that moment of pulling the trigger I realize that I have done exactly what the woman (my mom) showed in her face. I've changed the world. Oh, you