One-Way Trip to Mars: How My Near-Death Experience Taught Me To Live Fearlessly

sue ann pien

I was an atheist who died and discovered I was wrong. A “straight-A” kid willing to worship only the preachings of scientific method, finding all religion and spiritual mumbo jumbo to be a crock o’ shit.

That is, until I stopped breathing.

The moment came unexpectedly one night as a teenager. My first thought: strange to exist in a world without breath. It was magnificently beautiful, peacefully alight, and eternally true. So true, that words fail to picture it honestly, even here. How does one speak of the eternal when life is so full of endings?

For years afterwards, my near-death experience felt like a dirty little secret. At 18 years old, I was an angry mess and hell-bent on digging my own grave. Extreme as teenagers are wont to be, I pushed that envelope just a bit further. Maybe it’s that same trait which compels me to apply for a one-way trip to Mars today. I questioned irrationality, authority (for its own sake), and all systems that seemed to fail the human need to thrive. Children are born this way. We medicate, eradicate, and shame them to be otherwise.

After coming back from the dead, I knew anything was possible. I wanted to do everything I had been too scared of doing. I began exploring fearlessly. First, my brain required a context to hold the near-death experience. So I read up on world religions, moving quickly from Christianity to Buddhism to Islam. Then, I dove further – the mystics, Sufism, Rumi, the Tao. Getting closer.

Finally, I found the “New Age” section in the bookstore and saw “Near-Death Experiences” as a category. Yes, I flew through a tunnel. Yes, I saw a land of energy and essence. Yes, I too, merged with the —> Read More