Saturday, August 16, 2014

From Here Inside My House Of Glass

Sometimes no Truth is more powerful
Than one expressed in Anger
By a melancholy Man.
- Pete Hamill

A departure from the regularly-scheduled programming today.  I do so, well because I use this space as I see fit and I see fit to do what I do and to write what I write here today.  I do so also in recognition of the fact that there may indeed be an interrelationship between what has occupied this space all week (and shall resume doing so, again, tomorrow) and what appears here today. 

Robin Williams died earlier this week.  He took his own life.  In the immediate aftermath of his suicide, not only did expressions of shock and sadness reverberate around the world, so did condolences for his children and his wife and, sadly but certainly not surprisingly, expressions of disappointment and even ridicule (Yes Rush Limbaugh you fat fuck and perpetual waste of oxygen that would otherwise be available for my yet-to-be-born grandchildren to breathe someday I am looking squarely at you) as to how one who seemingly had "everything" could commit suicide.  

The great facade of the age in which we live, the age of instant information, is that the more gadgetry and resources we have at our disposal the less connected to one another we sometimes become.  I point the accusatory finger not outward but inward.  For someone such as me, who has a day-to-day that the interruption of and deviation from is a cause of much consternation, the allure of social media can be intoxicating.  It requires little to no effort to maintain "friendships" via Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or whatever hip service the kids are using today.  Ask yourself though whether these connections are actually contact or whether they are in fact something significantly less than that.  Now ask yourself these questions:  (a) How many of your Facebook friends have you never met; (b) For how many of them (without looking at their personal profile information) can you identify by name their spouse, their children and/or whether they have one or both of the above; and (c) When and where was the last time (presuming that you answered "Zero" to Question (a)) that you and this particular friend were somewhere together?  

Here in the age of instant information we know a little about a lot.  And not just "things" and "stuff" but each other too.  You cannot - as a matter of course - know what another is experiencing unless and until you put your feet into his or her shoes.  You cannot therefore - not without showing an absence of empathy that would make a sociopath blush - pretend to "know" what another is going through.  If you are sitting right now reading this and either mouthing to yourself of even saying aloud perhaps, "Yes I can" then do me a favor.  Stop reading right now.  Take your self-congratulatory, delusional bullshit someplace else.  Feel free to tell yourself whatever lies you need to get through your day-to-day.  You may not, however, do it here.   

Every day - for reasons that are exclusively their own - men and women of all colors, creeds, races and religious affiliations end their own lives.  Suffering is a human condition.  It belongs to all of us.  Life is inherently unfair.  If it was not, then we would not die at the end of it.  Inside each and every one of us there is a reservoir.  It, and it alone, serves to let us know just how much suffering we can withstand.  And much like us, the reservoir inside of us is not "one size fits all".    Maybe yours can hold a significantly greater amount of suffering than mine.  Maybe mine is bigger than yours and everyone else I have ever met.  I know not.  And neither do you.  We cannot. 

And it is because we cannot that we need to be a bit more judicious in our rush to judgment when things happen such as someone choosing to take his or her own life.  By the time I was eighteen years old, I had buried all four of my grandparents, a number of aunts and uncles and - the cherry atop the sundae of fun - my father.  Yet I had never been at a more somber, sullen funeral than the one I attended in the Summer of '85 for my friend and former classmate, Brian.  I did not know then - and I do not know now - what made a young man - hell a boy - of eighteen commit suicide.  And my understanding - or lack thereof - is as singularly unimportant today as it was twenty-nine years ago. 

Good people die by their own hand every day.  And a person's decision to end his or her own life makes that person neither a coward nor selfish.  It does however likely make the people who loved that person and whose lives have been directly affected by that person's decision profoundly sad.  And it is them - should we be among those who know them and can perhaps be of some comfort to them - for whom we should look to provide shelter and comfort.  We may not ever be able to understand.  But it does not mean that we cannot be there to listen and to offer support.  

Remember, the shoes you walk in are your own. 

Not mine. 

Not anyone else's. 

Not now. 

Not ever...  


-AK

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