Throughout my life I have picked up a few quotes that speak to me.
The first one that had the greatest impact on my life is from Frank Herbert’s Dune.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
The first time I heard this (yes heard, not read) was when I was watching the Dune miniseries with my sister. I was in middle school; I had not read Dune, and I don’t actually think I have read it to this day. I loved the mini series and did attempt to read the book, but ended up falling asleep because books make me sleepy… Point is, that litany from Dune has been a go to for me for a long time. It really spoke to me at that age because I did have a lot of fear.
I feared death, life, people, my mind – everything, really. I was starting to think through life, the universe and everything… and it was terrifying. But any time I started to feel the fear creep in, I would remember that quote. It became my mantra to escape the little-death. Slowly my fears faded away. Sure, I’m still afraid of things that are out of my control, but it’s not something that stops me from living my life. It used to be, but I’m overcoming that.
I still have fears, but this post is more about a quote I stumbled upon later in life, something Gandhi had told a reporter. The reporter asked him if he had a message. He replied with:
My Life is My Message
Those five words were life changing for me. It got me thinking more, which I already do a lot, but this time about what my message is… If my life is my message, what is my life saying? So over the years I have been thinking about that, and making sure to live my life with that in the back of my head.
I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in a God, or deities, or anything supernatural. I believe that we are here and that there isn’t a reason for it. There isn’t a reason for existence that has ever felt real to me. When I say that, I don’t want anyone who lives with religion to take anything from that. This is my brain’s interpretation of life and I fully respect yours'. I need to make that clear. The reason I wanted to say that I am an atheist is because it has some implications on the way I view life.
I don’t believe in an afterlife, in any sense. When I die, that's it; I have nothing else. I will no longer exist in any manner. I won’t see anyone ever again. I won’t anything again, because I simply won't be. My life that I live is all I have. All I will ever have.
I need to make that count.
What will live on, even if it's briefly, is the message people get from my life. Gandhi is gone; he doesn’t exist physically anymore, anywhere. But he does still exist in some sense because of his message. That is what I take away from that quote. It changes my daily life.
I think those two quotes define my view on life well. They definitely help me navigate the chaos in the world and in my brain. I’m going to do things even if I’m scared if it means that I am working towards my message in life.
At this point, this post might not have a ton to do with mental health. At least, it might not appear that way. But it does. Because these words have gotten me through many dark days. My brain constantly tells me I want to die – I want to stop existing. But then I remember:
My life is my message. And I need to live to send that message.