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Defining Life With Stephen King Quotes

When you change your life, you have to change the quote you live by

“Life sucks, then you die!”

Pet Sematary was one of my favorite books, and that line stuck with me since the first time I read it in the fourth grade. I remember how bad I wanted to read the book, but the library wouldn’t let me check it out. I noticed a friend of mine had it in his family’s bookshelf, and I “borrowed” it from them.

I didn’t bother to see if they minded, I snuck it out and returned it a week later none the wiser.

Of all the crimes I could have done in my young life, stealing books was most likely a productive one.

I was playing chess with the same friend in his living room one day while his mom was in the kitchen. I beat him for the third time in a come-from-behind victory, and I laughed as he looked at me with a pout and sad eyes and I said:

“Life sucks, then you die, Frank!”

As soon as it came out of my mouth, I knew I’d made a mistake because his mom came rushing from the kitchen, straight to the bookcase. The book was there where it had always been, but she gave me a knowing look anyway. Even though I smiled, I don’t think I gave anything away. Maybe she decided not to make a big deal out of it since she was such a huge Stephen King fan.

Ever since it’s been the unofficial motto of my life.

I’m not negative when I say it — I mean it in the most self-deprecating way possible. It’s my go-to instead of saying, “oh well!”

  • Forgot to do my homework? “Life sucks, then you die!”
  • Got fired? “Life sucks, then you die!”
  • Wife leaves you for another man? “Life sucks, then you die!”
  • Anxiety got you down? “Life sucks, then you die!”

I find most people don’t think the last one funny coming from me, considering my history of mental illness and suicide attempts. Most people react as if they were shot when it comes out of my mouth.

I need a new motto.

How about “Get busy living or get busy dying” from Different Seasons? More of the same? Maybe I should avoid any references to death and dying, but hey, we are talking about Mr. King here.

I don’t remember which book this came from, but how about:

“I think that we’re all mentally ill. Those of us outside the asylums only hide it a little better — and maybe not all that much better after all.”

That’s a great one! It kind of speaks to the duality of my life — about how if I’m not on the mental ward or you didn’t see the scars on my arms, and you met me in real life, you’d never be able to tell anything was wrong with me.

I surprise many people when they find out about my history. It’s happened before with some friends of my wife, Flora. They only knew me as the father of the year, the loving husband, and the selfless giver. When they read my posts on Facebook about my struggle with my illness, they are shocked and also felt a bit sorry for Flora.

How does she put up with me?

I’ve never attempted to hide who I am, but the mental illness label doesn’t define me. It’s just part of the reason I am the way I am as a person.

But, my new motto from the pen of Stephen King would have to be:

“Remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

Hope is the most important part of why I have recovered from my mental illness to the degree I have. In those times, when I’m down a hole and can’t see the light, hope is the only thing that gives me the strength to grab the ledge and pull myself out.

When I was at my worst — suicidal, harming myself, depressed, psychotic — I held on to hope with a death-grip and never let go. Hope allowed me to see that one day, things would get better. Maybe I would never be cured, but I knew I would experience happiness that wasn’t clouded by darkness and angst.

When you are in the middle of eating dirt, the hardest thing to do is to convince yourself that life isn’t over. It’s hard to believe that things will ever get better than that one moment you are stuck in. The ruts seem deeper than they are, and without hope, you’ll never see that all you need to do is spin the tires, and you will be free from the muck.

Hope is what brings a smile to the face of the lost and desperate.

I like that hope is part of my new motto. It seems only fitting.

Thank you, Mr. King.

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Writer | Essayist | Video Content Creator | Future member of the two-comma club | Dreamer - I am doing it my way and it might take a bit longer. Don't wait up.

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