Life: A Series of Existential Crises

How magical would it be if you were able to replace the word recovery with living?

What if the word tomorrow was synonymous with hope?

Pain, a manifestation of strength?

Love, an extension of a heaven?

Life, an infinite series of existential crises?

Welcome, the stars say. We’re glad you’re here.

Every day, the sun warms our skin. A blanket of comfort from the universe, that’s what spring feels like. Every night, our world is cloaked with a constellation of stars. A beautiful sight to our eyes. Light years away, I wonder if someone else lays on their bed wondering what tomorrow brings too.

Living with mental illness sometimes leads me to assume that regardless of what tomorrow brings, the pains of today make the curiosities of tomorrow irrelevant. I’ve viewed recovery as a factor and choice in life, but what if your journey towards healing became so integrated into your lifestyle that your active efforts to heal were part of your everyday experiences?

Healing doesn’t have to be this huge intimidating contract you sign where you must commit to doing a, b, and c to get better. Recovery can simply be saying…

I will do the best I can with all I have so that I can build a life I love.

And sure, maybe a mini self-accountability contract comes in, that’s really up to you. Our recovery is a day-to-day thing too. Every time we wake up, we choose hope. A therapist once told me that every day I’ve chosen to wake up no matter how bad things were. It wasn’t a choice that I necessarily spent hours actively deliberating, but that choice was natural to me. It was natural for my body. You’re no different. You’ve chosen to wake up every day no matter how bad things have gotten for you too. Sure, we will be pained by the different woes of this world but feeling those things means that our bodies are vulnerable. It means we’re as every bit human as the person next to us. That innate fragility makes us hold onto our loved ones tightly. It helps us look at each other softly and forgivingly. Be kind to one another. We’re as every bit human as the person next to us.

I used to go to a private Catholic school when I was younger. Although I practice my spirituality much differently now, my priests and teachers always preached about the importance of getting into heaven. Sure, this may have been one out of a slew of problematic teachings I may not have agreed with but this idea of heaven fascinated me. I didn’t agree that we had to do things to get into heaven, but I did find myself wanting to do good deeds simply because that was the right way to live. I’m not familiar with every religion nor will I assume the beliefs of every person, but I believe many of us have some version of heaven we experience or seek to experience. Maybe the word heaven doesn’t resonate with you either, that’s okay too. To me, the idea of heaven isn’t just something that occurs in the afterlife. Heaven, to me, is this culmination of hope manifesting into a sacred space whether it’s mental or spiritual. As a young activist and youth worker, my heaven is a place I’m trying to build. It’s this mental space that’s sacred and safe to me. I imagine cotton candy pastel skies, the smell of sweet Filipino mangoes, warm sunlight, and a type of soft happiness that’s really indescribable, but so strongly felt. I return to this space in moments of stress. A long time ago, I made this massive painting. It’s called, You Carry Heaven With You.

art (1 of 1)IMG_0554IMG_0557

(This is what I imagine when I think of how love is an extension of heaven.)

The idea of a heaven is an overwhelming one, but it’s always brought me comfort especially during times of an existential crisis.

Imagining a life where we are fully recovered is intimidating and daunting, but the idea that there is some sort of end person that we will become once we are “healed” robs us of our human-ness. So I don’t imagine days like that. Every day I’ve chosen hope because that’s my recovery story. That’s the first thing my body decides to do, my mind gets to make up the rest later. I hope that you find healing in whatever you carry. Know you do not have to carry it alone either and it’s okay to place it down for a little bit too 🙂

Welcome to life, the stars say. It’s a privilege to live in the same moment as time as you. I hope we can make our stay here a good one.

With love,



One thought on “Life: A Series of Existential Crises

  1. Michelle ur pictures are lovely. It’s indicative of what u feel at that moment when u were painting it. Yes, Heaven I believe is not somewhere in the skies. It is where and how we live our lives here on earth, in the interaction we afford to every human being we meet. No living human person has seen heaven. We BELIEVED because its been talked about in the Bible. And with the Grace of God, we must muster the strength to LIVE LIFE the best way we can. For my self I lift up everything to HIM..


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