The movie Arrival has been on my mind ever since I watched it three nights ago. It is the story of alien arrival on earth. These aliens are in giant egg-shape vessels, and hover above the ground in 12 locations around our planet. Experts are flown in to attempt communication, with the ultimate question, “What is your purpose here?”
While I do not want to spoil the movie for those who have not seen it, for the sake of this creative flow, I will give a few details that are pivotal to the story line. What becomes clear is that these 12 alien structures are deeply connected and seem to have the intention of unifying the discourse across our many nations. Through a universal language, they teach unity along with a gift of perceiving time all at once, rather than in the linear way we are accustomed to, i.e. past, present, and future.
One of the consistent themes, naturally in this genre, is death. The main character struggles with depression and lack of connection to life at the beginning. We see flashbacks (which end up being flash-forwards – hence the exposure to time as being non-linear) to a child, whom she loves dearly, dying of a rare disease. While this character struggles immensely with this throughout the movie, in the end, it brings new life and a deeper connection to the present.
This struck me. She was heart-broken and zombie-like for much of the movie, yet this darkest emotion and intense struggle ended up being the catalyst for her to experience love like she’s never experienced it before. She knew death was coming, as we all do, and she chose the path that would bring her the greatest joy followed by the greatest heart-break.
How often in life do we avoid greatness in fear of losing it? We stop ourselves from taking chances and bold leaps in fear that the fall will be too much to bare. But we all die. Life ends. Life is beautiful and expansive because of the shadows it comes with. We know the light because we know the dark.
I have been lucky to grapple with death in a real and terrifying way. When I was in my early 20s, I realized I had avoided the reality of death and had kept myself sheltered, and comfortable, by assuming life continues on in a different realm. It hit me like a bag of bricks, I do not KNOW what happens after death, and I cannot KNOW what happens until it happens. It felt like the ground was ripped from under my feet, my dream-like reality suddenly became visceral and fragile, and I saw the potential for death all around me. It was like a camera that once was zoomed in on me, offering protection as I was central to the story, suddenly zoomed out and I realized I am not the center of the universe. I am mortal. I am a tiny piece of a much larger system. I became sick to my stomach and was shaking and crying uncontrollably. I was finally awake, and it was terrifying.
Through that process, I learned to think about death everyday. Although this experience rocked me to my core, and took me down to a darkness I was not sure I would ever escape, it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me. I now live life with a deep understanding and respect for death. I express my love to those around me. I care deeply for the people in my life and for those around the world who struggle. I see the potential for impact and positive shifts in our society. And I believe that I can make a difference. I think about my last days on earth, lying on my death bed, and I think about how I want to feel. Because of this respect and love for life, I make the most of everyday. I want to finish my life with a content smile and a deep knowing that I lived boldly, bravely, authentically, with my heart on my sleeve, and without any regrets. I have devoted my life to living my life fully, and it brings more purpose and energy into my being by leading by example and sharing this with everyone around me.
Back to the movie Arrival. With the universal language these aliens gifted, our society was able to heal old wounds and come together as people, humans, and energetic beings. To me, I see our universal language is Death. We all experience it. We all want to make the most of our time on this planet. Yes we have different beliefs and ideas about death; what it means, where it takes us, what happens, etc. But at the end of the day, we will all die. I think that if we all could allow ourselves to truly feel death, honor death, think about it daily, and love the gifts that death brings into LIFE, we will begin living more fully, aligned with our unique purpose, and see that we are all one.
What have I learned or shifted since my existential crisis? I am much nicer to myself. I see the long-game, and I recognize that being committed to a certain change takes time, patience, practice and trial and error. I see the need for quality fuel in my thoughts, and I know that being hard on myself or getting stuck in regret, expectation, or perfection, is a battle I will never win. I see my duty in life is to fully experience what life offers. I believe that my energy, soul or collective consciousness can obtain so much power and presence that I will welcome death in with curiosity and adventure. I see freedom in breathing in the reality of death and allowing that to fuel my passion and purpose on earth. I see magic in honoring death and bowing down to the awareness and growth that comes from building strength in my mental health and finishing each day with a sense of pride and gratitude.
I honor each day like it is my last, and I forgive myself when I forget to honor the day. I practice awareness to notice my habits and learn the ins and outs of my subconscious programming, because I want to live with intention and conscious choice. I surround myself with inspiration and let go of relationships that resonate in a low vibration. I stay open and curious to what I learn and experience, because I know I don’t know everything, and as I evolve and the world evolves, so to does our understanding of life. I take chances and I put my work out into the world, because I know it lands for some people and will do good for many, including myself. I recognize that my mind will react instinctively, and sometimes thoughts come in that do not serve me, so I redirect my energy and thoughts elsewhere. I see life as a beautiful gift. And I cherish every ounce, every breath, every learning, every failure, every smile, every connection, and every day I am lucky to participate in.
I can't say this is the right way or the only way, all I know is that I feel aligned, alive, and excited for life when I focus on my energy as a catalyst to something bigger and greater than just me.
Cheers to death. Cheers to life. Cheers to allowing your mind and heart to break down, to break open, and to experience the fullness of what you are capable of.
I would be happy to chat about this if your interest or fear has been sparked. Dive in. Get curious. Beauty is waiting on the other side of your fears. xoxo
**for professional help, check out betterhelp.com