My Road to Revival …and how SciFi put me back on the path
A year ago, I hit an existential slump, which transformed into a full-blown crisis. Every morning, I'd wake up with a sense of panic in my chest, like something terrible was about to happen or was already happening. I didn't know the cause, I just knew something was wrong. Something has changed, the world is different now, and I’m not sure I want to live in it anymore.
I thought about dying every day for a while. The question of whether I should die gave me comfort. Like I had control over the choice, and if lived that day it was because I chose to. It was surprisingly empowering.
I wasn’t depressed. I had moments of transcendental joy on some days, especially the days that I walked in nature. I like to think that I approached dying rationally: I want meaning, I can’t find it, so maybe I shouldn’t be here.
Like many who find themselves lacking a sense of meaning or purpose, I turned to fiction to find some motivation(an escape).
I read a book called “Player of Games,” the second book in a sci-fi series called The Culture. This series features a society where humans and AI coexist harmoniously, and AI has solved all of humanity's problems. AI fixed climate change, made huge advancements in space travel, and even found a way to create space for humans to live in, the form of orbitals that spin about a point to create artificial gravity. Sex change was as easy as changing your hair color and humans in the Culture did it frequently. The Culture was decentralized so no one could beat it; there’s no government or despot to take down and there’s no “capital city,” to bomb.
The book took me all over the galaxy and deep into the Culture.
And by the end of it, I was sad. Suddenly, my life felt short. I have maybe another 50 years? 60 if I ate really healthy food and exercised. But, that’s not enough time for us to create the Culture! I won’t get to travel into space like it’s nothing, and change into a man to see what all that privilege feels like (ha, ha). I won’t get to see the notion of privilege based on appearance and gender dissolve completely. 60 years of life is just not enough.
And so, in the midst of these feelings of disappointment, I found something: inspiration, curiosity, a desire to live. Not just today, but for a long long time. Forever, ideally!
The Player of Games marked the beginning of my revival. The story helped me find fascination, optimism, curiosity. Forgotten feelings.
When I have bad days (I still do, sometimes), I try to invoke that curiosity and wonder “What will happen next? It could be really really good.”