“No,’ Nico said. ‘Getting a second life is one thing. Making it a better life, that’s the trick.’ As soon as he said it, Nico realized he could’ve been talking about himself. He decided not to bring that up.”

Rick Riordan, The Blood of Olympus

I was watching After Life, the new Netflix series with Ricky Gervais, and it got me thinking about second chances and a second go at things in life. If you haven’t watched the show, I highly recommend it. It has all the trademarks of Gervais, but also with a little bit more serious tone to it.

The series revolves around a middle aged man who has lost his wife of 25 years to cancer and how he copes with life in a small town and working in a failing business, but the main theme of it is how do you continue after a loss.

As some of my readers know, back in 2011 I lost my best friend and producer of most of my projects, Daniel Henriksbø. He was one of my favorite people in life. When I had lost faith in my writing and pursuing a career as a writer, he turned me around. He was all about second chances and positivity. Now, he was no pushover. If you disappointed him, he would let you know.

For the last 7 and a half years I have tried to figure out how to live without that energy in my life. When someone is ripped from like that it does feel like a part of you die, and there is some truth to it. Bret Weinstein discussed this in a video he did on grief. What he discussed there is that people we care about and get to know deeply, leave an imprint on our mind, a kind of network that expects certain behavior from them, so when that is ripped out of our reality, our brain deals with it through sorrow.

Those networks can be ripped out of your brain through death, someone moving away or a relationship ending. There are many ways of going through that process, but the important thing is that when life manages to give you a second chance at forming those networks or imprints, you need to grab it. I know very well how hard that can be, as I have gone through my part of relationships ending and people lost.

Second chances at life is how we survive, but breaking those patterns can be really hard on you because your brain is wired to cherish them. Close social bonds is how our species survived throughout our evolution, from the savannas of Africa to our modern society.

Second chances are also important as a path of redemption for people who fall out of society. People who may have wronged you, fallen out of society and broken the law need to see that there is a way back. If you remember the story of the prodigal son from the Bible, it is a perfect example of it. Even to some people it may seem a little strange how the father (society) celebrates the return of the son that has left and spent all of his money.

If we as a society cannot welcome back people who are genuinely apologetic, then they may not see any other choice but to continue the bad behavior as that is what they know and it feels safer than jumping into the unknown.

This does not mean that we can forgive everything or always give chance after chance to someone who proves that they cannot be trusted, but the road to redemption needs to exist for most people, because we are all humans and we make mistakes.

Sorry for a little messy piece. Still trying to figure out this idea.


JH Lillevik is a writer of sci-fi and fantasy. He writes screenplays, novels and short stories. He also works as a writing consultant for upcoming writers. His specialty is mythology, world building and psychology.

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