I’ve had a shitty week and it’s just Wednesday. For me, a rough week at work usually means someone died. That was the case this week. A young man took his life. I felt guilty and somehow responsible. What could I have done? Could I have gotten to him sooner? I never had the chance to speak with him and so I’m left wondering. Could I have helped him? He died two days before our first session. I’ll never know.
In the wondering about this man and any difference that could have been made, I found myself beginning to wonder about other things as well. Why bother? Why am I doing this work? If someone wants to kill himself he will just do it anyway. What difference does it make for me to show up? What good does it do? I’m not sure I’m making any difference at all. It’s just so hard. This problem is so big. Who am I doing this? Why bother?
The more I pondered these questions, the lower I sank. My confidence dropped and I didn’t feel like doing anything at all. I watched a lot of tv. I wanted to give up. I kind of did give up. I began to feel so indifferent about it all. “It just doesn’t matter,” I thought to myself. I felt lost. I had so many questions and no answers. I didn’t know what to do so I just did nothing.
I have an amazing friend in my life. This friend doesn’t let me get away with this much. I was feeling sorry for myself on the phone with her and she told me to get up and go for a hike. “It’s hot outside,” I quickly answered. “There is no way I’m getting off this couch,” I thought to myself. However, the thought stuck with me. I woke up the next morning and did go for a hike. I took my sweet girl, Lucy, and we headed up to a mountain lake. As I packed a sandwich and some treats for Lucy, I began to feel better. I felt more me by the minute.
Out on the trail I reflected on all of these questions. Who am I to do this work? What difference can I make? Do I make any difference at all? I didn’t have the answers I was looking for. I kept walking. I made it to the lake very quickly. “Is this it?” I asked. Mostly I was asking about the distance of the hike, but also probably about my life. I looked beyond the lake and saw a ridge behind it. I wondered what was on the other side of the ridge. I felt an urge to climb to the top of the ridge so I could look over. Quickly the voice of reason came to mind. “No, it’s too steep. No one knows you’ll be up there. You could get hurt….” And on the questions went. I walked around the lake and got closer to the ridge. I wanted to go up there. Something told me not to. “Fuck it,” I thought. I’m doing it. I started climbing straight up. With every step I felt something wake up in me. I felt more and more excited, on fire, and alive. I kept stepping.
It was a tough climb. Each step made my legs and lungs burn. I was out of shape. It was hard. But something else was on fire too, something inside. I kept stepping. Quickly I made it to the top. It was spectacular. I could see forever in all directions. It was breath taking. This was so worth it. I was reminded of the sweet reward of having a gut feeling and acting on it. I was so glad I just climbed it and didn’t let myself talk myself out of it.
I find this happens a lot. I have a niggle to do something and I don’t. I let the voice talk me out of it. I let fear talk me out of it. I end up not doing the thing and something in me dies a little. I feel like I’ve learned this lesson so many times in my life, but I still find myself not stepping up. Not taking the step. Not doing the thing.
I was on a high as I came back down. Actually being spontaneous and climbing up this thing on a whim reignited something for me. It was just a hike, but I knew it was about something more. I made it back to the lake and started back down the trail. Not long after I started down I ran into two women hiking up. I said hi and talked with them for a moment. One of the women looked over at me and said, “Molly?” “Yes,” I responded. “I’m sure you don’t remember me, but I attended one of your trainings awhile ago,” she said. I was floored. Here, out in the middle of nowhere, on a hike to come back to myself I run into a woman who attended one of my suicide prevention/ intervention trainings. It got me thinking… it does matter.
As I passed these women and continued to walk I continued that thought. What I do matters. Everything I do matters. The trainings I lead matter. The conversations I have matter. The way I show up everyday matters. Just being out on the trail today to see these two women mattered. It all matters.
I think indifference can suck the life out of just about anything. It can kill motivation and energy. It kills relationships. It kills communities. It can even kill people when they lose the will to live. It almost killed me once. I didn’t think anything I did mattered. I didn’t feel my life had any value or purpose. I was ready to end it all when a conversation changed my life. One person showed up and forever changed the course of my life. What if that person felt what they did as a life coach didn’t matter? What if he thought our session that day didn’t really matter and did something else? I’m sure he’s questioned himself at one time or another. Don’t we all? What if he listened to his own doubt? What if didn’t show up? I’m not sure I’d be here today. That conversation mattered. Him showing up mattered. He helped me to see that I matter.
Indifference kills, but purpose breathes life into others, into the work we chose to do, into the relationships we care about, and into our existence. The life coach I was working with had a purpose, which had him show up with me that day. This purpose infused life into my being. Seeing those ladies on the hike reminded me of my own purpose, to help others see that this isn’t it and there is so much more. Someone once gave me a second chance at life, and I believe in giving this gift to others. Remembering my own purpose breathed life back into myself.
Are you alive with purpose today? Are you living as if it matters? Or has indifference started to slowly steal your joy? Are you letting the ordinary, the mundane, the boring, or the challenging suck the vitality out of your life? You can continue to go on this path. You can continue to hide, retreat, protect yourself, and pretend not to care. You can say to yourself and the world, “So what? It doesn’t matter. I can’t be bothered. Why bother?” Or you can step forward the next step. You can show up. You can do the thing you feel called to do. You say yes to that niggle inside. You can take a chance and love her. You can do that thing that is so scary to do. It does matter. All of it matters. In choosing to be on purpose you might just save a life. Maybe even your own.