Thursday, 3 March 2011

Giving life a go

Choose Life, says Renton in the film Trainspotting by Danny Boyle based on the book Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. He goes on to say, in prose by screenwriter John Hodge, "choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers", so it's fair to say he's being sarcastic. Ironically by the end of the film, Renton chooses stable conventional "life" over the heroin.

This blog is a formal expression of what I realised a long time ago without even consciously thinking it - that I would give life a go.

When I was teenager (I know, I know, in many respects I am still a teenager, but we're talking literally here) there were a lot of dark times and depression, and 1 or 2 moments (literally just 1 or 2) when I seriously weighed up not being alive. The reasons were ridiculous, as they always are with teenagers - just a cover I guess for the underlying emotions, the black depths of depression. They were moments where, quite sober, I sat on a cliff edge in my mind, taking a casual look over the edge.

Consciously, I looked at the Big Questions with a cynical philosophy. What is the point in life? There is none. If happiness is eradication of need, what's more pure, more complete, than ending all your needs completely?

Obviously I didn't go through with it, or even try (failed attempts so often tragically end up with brain damage or other severe permanent medical problems). I'm still here, writing this self-indulgent blog about being an emo teenager.

I never declared anything, to myself or anything else. It's a little bit like the self-harm which faded away around the end of my teens - I never said no, I just stopped feeling any compulsion to say yes.

I still don't think there is a Big Purpose In Life. Nature, being an automatic program, has created us as selfish animals compelled to continue our genes; we've evolved as a social intelligent species because it's useful, not for any grand purpose.

Some people think ending your own life is a crime, because your body is the property of a higher power who "gave" it to you. I think that's bullshit. It's not my place to tell you what to believe or what not to believe, but the variety of human-centric gods with Grand Plans for mankind say more about the needs of those who conjure them than actual evidence.

My view is pretty simple. Life is all we have. It's dirty, aggravating, painful, often short and almost entirely unfair, and while the human being is a masterful vehicle looked at in some ways, it's pitifully flawed in many others. But it really is all we've got. And if you're here, eating, breathing, treading on other people's toes, you better make the most of it and be as good to everyone else as you hope they'd be to you.

The Christchurch earthquake last week was a sobering reminder of how fragile and unfair this life is. During the national 2-minute silence exactly 1 week on, my thinking brain reflected on how lucky I am not to know anybody killed in the quake, and that I wasn't there myself. But my instincts, the ones desiring action and decision, were already asking: What am I going to do now? How do I react to this?

My decision is, consciously and more so than ever, to Give Life A Go.

(Thanks for getting through rather self-absorbed blog post about me me me.)


  1. Life's pretty beautiful in it's complexity - the triumphs, the falls, the days when all you want to do is stay in a comforting cocoon. Make sure, in choosing life, you keep time for yourself, ok?

  2. This wasn't self-indulgent at all, but rather a very well-written and thought-out post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Remember: say YES!