Death By Choice


“I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”

-Cheryl Strayed

Death. The ever-present specter. A time of letting go. Letting go of the old self. Letting go of what doesn’t serve anymore. Letting go has felt like death. So much mixed emotions. And it took forever. I hold on. Grasping. Always grasping…

It was a slow shedding of old skin that didn’t fit anymore. And that is okay. It happened in the perfect way that it was supposed to. I can see that now. And it is okay that my feelings are mixed and tumultuous. Death is loaded with emotions. It is through allowing these emotions to be expressed that we regenerate ourselves.

I would say today’s weather is fitting for this piece of writing. Thrashing wind and looming rain clouds with glimpses of sunlight gently breaking through the gloom. It is a perfect representation of my internal landscape of feelings. It is both depressing and exciting. The power of a possible coming storm vying for dominance with the light-bringer sun. Beautiful and scary. Dreadful, but curiously interesting. Watching the world tear itself apart and be in peace and brilliance in the same breath. I patiently observe the same juxtaposition in myself as I witness my own internal sparring of terror and peace as I agonize over choices and find deliverance in making them.

I am seeing that I feel guilt in many of my choices. This is one of my patterns that has held me in its grip most of my life. This strange paradox that has plagued me through time. If I choose something then I have NOT chosen something else. I second-guess myself. I feel guilt over what I didn’t choose. I beat myself up over what I didn’t choose. I drag along the weight of the unchosen with me until I become too tired to carry it. And then I finally let it go. It’s exhausting. It’s fraught full of pain and misery. Looking back I see that not only have I done this throughout my life with major decisions like leaving Hollywood nightlife and returning to Stanford, but also in minor daily decisions. I am glutton for self-flagellation. Beating myself with regularity. Am I addicted to this pain and guilt?

Guilt has been a poisonous friend all my life. I feel guilt with too many choices I make. Fear of missing out, also known as FOMO, has been my life-long companion. This has led to frequent attempts of living in the past or at some point in some alternative future that I am now missing because I chose the other path. Pure craziness. No wonder I feel insane at times. No wonder I often feel stuck. I try to live in multiple dimensions of existence, dissipating my power in the present as I try to be all things to all in people to all places in all times. What a mind-fuck. And what a perfect way to squander one’s life.

Maybe this is where the power of “I choose because I choose” comes in. Maybe this is an opportunity for me to finally understand this concept. The power and freedom that comes from giving ourselves permission to choose and commit. Peacefully laying to rest what wasn’t chosen.

Life is full of choices. It is safe for me to choose.

Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.

-William Jennings Bryan