There are several reasons to never give up in our lives. Probably too many to list in an online post today. You can probably count through the first 50 already in your own head. Something inside of us called “instinct”, the instinct to survive and keep going. Even when we do not want to, it kicks in and carries us over the hump.
I know this feeling and I write to you today to encourage you to always go with that gut instinct. Allow me ten minutes of your time to explain a little of where or how I found out, WHY?
I am just like you or the next person, I thought life was easy and fun, many times I have enjoyed things like awesome exotic holidays and that “travel” feeling has brought me plenty of joy. To say life has been very good to me is a fair way to describe how I have lived through my twenties and into my thirties. I have enjoyed travelling the world and lived a beautiful life in the warm California sun. So how could I know anything about that instinct to “carry on” you might ask.
In 2011 I was in my 35th year of life and living in Costa Rica. Yes an absolute paradise. I am originally from Ireland, a lovely place although there is plenty of wind and rain. I travelled to the United States when I was younger and spent a nice piece of my life living in Seattle and San Francisco, west coast for me. I moved on from there and settled in Costa Rica in 2011. You can probably get the idea of how I like the sun and the nice climates a little more. Well in fairness, part of being nice to ourselves is waking up each day and feeling, feeling alive. There is no better way to do that than being in a beautiful climate and in a beautiful country.
In 2011 I received a phone call on a Monday morning, it was a phone call that changed my life.
Have you ever had a phone call that changed your life?
The call was from my younger brother who lived in Sweden at the time, here is it how it went.
John; Aidan, call home please. (he was lightweight crying)
Me; John what’s the matter man, just tell me what’s up?
John; Please Aidan, just call and talk with mam. Please. (his sniffling and crackling voice)
Me; Look man, pull yourself together. Whatever it is just tell me what’s going on. Is it Na~Na? My mother had been taking care of our Na~Na for a few years now.
John; Please call home and speak with mam.
Me; Look, whatever it is, ya need to understand I am on an Internet call with you and I am in Costa Rica. If the call drops I cannot call you back. Just tell me what is the problem. It is not going to be that bad.
John; Aidan just call mam and talk with her, please (he is weeping all of the time) just call her and talk to her as soon as you can.
Me; I need to know no man, just tell me. I am your big brother now tell me.
John; It’s your son Aidan, Darra is dead, I am so sorry.
Me; Don’t fuck with me right now John, this is not funny (much more panicked)
John; I am sorry please call home, he didn’t wake up this morning (he begins balling crying) he didn’t get up for school, he died in his sleep.
Me; Get off the phone man I have to make some calls.
That all took place while standing in the kitchen of my apartment in Costa Rica on Monday morning December 12th 2011.
I began crying and balling my way through finding some clothes and a travel bag and a plane ticket home. Yes some calls to my own mother, my ex who is Darra’s mother and a few others. The emotional turmoil was like all the hurricanes that have ever been named were all exploding inside of my own feelings. Tears I never knew that I had. I was holding my lips together and almost like mumbling but it was nothing but raw hurt that was coming out, the taste of my own tears as they erupted every 3 to 4 minutes. That plane journey home to bury my 15 year old son was the most horrible flight of my life. My travels had come to an end. Life was over.
In 2013 I became a father again and I had the most beautiful little son Patrick. How great was this? A second chance at life. I had been grinding hard to exist in the world without Darra. I was an absentee father and my time with Darra was always when I would be at home in Ireland for holidays. My holidays were always about getting back to Ireland to see him and hang out with him. My life though was in Costa Rica and I had a new baby and a new relationship. Patrick brought to me a light of hope to continue on and to climb my way out of the dark hole I had found myself in, ever since the day of that phone call in 2011. Was it my instinctive gut that kept me going and set about the rebuilding of me as a man and more importantly as a father?
In 2014 on July 4th weekend myself and my new family were visiting a friend in his new home. They had purchased it approx 4months previously and we were to be their first visitors, we would watch and enjoy the world Cup and spend some time in an absolute paradise part of Costa Rica. We enjoyed an evening meal as the sun went down that Saturday evening and we watched Costa Rica play their final game of the world Cup. A relaxing evening and we all headed to bed.
At 5 am approx on July 6rh 2014 I awoke to hear bellows which sounded as if tying my dream state into the real world. Bellows like and animal had attacked or something so deep and yet desperate yelps of urgency. My eyes half closed I ran from the room to find out what was all the commotion and what was going on. I saw Patrick’s mother out by the pool deck, just off the kitchen and she was in the pool. As I was rushing across the furniture I saw Patrick, lifeless. I pulled him from our host as she was helping Patrick’s mom rescue him from the pool. He was unconscious and I began without thought to perform CPR. The man of the house was calling for an ambulance and I was breathing and pressing his little chest. A panic to the ambulance and off to the hospital. The rescue efforts ceased around 7.40 am, he was gone. Patrick had died from drowning.
For a man, me, just like any of you reading this right now, I had been dealt another vital blow to my life. My foundations and faith in the universe had been shaken when Darra had died and as I slowly rebuilt myself as daddy again I had been delivered an ultimate blow. Patrick was now another baby of mine that again I must view for the last time as they close the coffin lid.
So, what can I tell you about life since? How does one recover from these types of devastation? Where do we find the will to live and to carry on. Nobody can see on my face that I carry these burdensome traumas with me in my life. Actually quite the opposite they see a fine tall strong man who likes a joke here and there. Larger than life, some might say. I practice today and have since practiced ways in which to meditate and slow my life down. It is that with all my practicing and trying to help myself that I can write to you today and let you know that even at our worst in life, even at our most low moments that we do have instinct inside of us all and we have a will to live. For all the days I have needed or felt like I needed the world to open up and just swallow me whole. Instinct inside of myself has not let me quit. The gut instinct of survival has pushed me through the toughest I have ever encountered. These instincts exist and it is by allowing myself to be led by them when I needed it the most is how I can testify today to you that we all have strength beyond what we ever believe.
Sometimes we could never imagine any horrible things in life, I can tell you that when faced with them, it is like an auto pilot kicks in and carries us through. I do not know where the stregnrh ever came from. What I do know is that it has come when I needed it. So I write to tell you, explain to you that please do not worry, do not fret, do not waste time on being down over things. You can make it and you will make it. Should we decide to listen to our gut instincts when we feel at our most beaten, we can then begin to nurture the instinct inside of us that wants us to thrive and live. Live happy and enjoy the beauty the world has to offer us. Find peace and begin again. No matter how or where you find yourself today, I want to share with you that you do have the strength and you will find a way. Life is to be lived as much as we can. Don’t pressure yourself and obviously don’t allow others to pressure you either. There is a way and you will find it. Just like I did, not once but twice. To rise up out of darkness, misery or depression is possible. This is why I am writing this for you today.
Live for today and allow yourself the little tiny steps you need to survive, allow these small steps to be your path through even your toughest of days.
Aidan Mc Nally, author.
TWO sons TOO many, memoir.
17 & Life, Memoir.
Layman’s Handbook, selfhelp.
LinkedIn. Aidan Mc Nally
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