Being Alive, Life, and Existential Crises

Published: Mar 26, 2022 | Updated: May 20, 2022

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Being Alive, Major Life Events, and Existential Crises

A huge crisis always reveals truth about people. Or let me put it differently — in extreme, stressful situations people often show other character traits, behavior which is usually a sort of “hidden” in day-to-day life.

Much of what then comes to the foreground is fear, desperation, envy, and suspicion, but there are likewise those who in crises suddenly show real courage, a great heart, perseverance, and determination.

A big crisis — often as a result of a major impacting life event — usually also leads to an existential crisis, and it always reminds me of the movie Alive (1993); you know, the famous film based on the true story of the survivors of an airplane crash in the Andes mountains in South America.

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What made a lasting impression on me was not so much that some finally ate the bodies of the deceased, but the change in character and attitude of the survivors; those who seemed courageous and outgoing before the crash became fearful and unsure after the crash. And others, who first seemed rather flat and timid, became the organizers, motivators, and real survivors after the crash.

It seems that actual physical and emotional crises almost always bring up unexpected, unknown qualities to the surface, responses to a situation which are fed by the conscious or unconscious answers to an inherent existential crisis. And those qualities will necessarily surprise, or even shock us. Sometimes people crack down, sometimes they become heroes, but they will always feel — alive.

We don’t know beforehand what exactly will trigger what, or how. New situations will teach us new things about ourselves (and about others), and only real-life experience can show us the stuff we’re really made of.

That maybe shocking, or a surprise, sometimes it shows us we are stronger than we thought, and then again, what shows itself — isn’t always beautiful!


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