Some Are Chosen

While walking through a mine field, I stamped my feet

knowing only would be my confidence address defeat

 

For it is a wonder sometime to know the reason why

some we love are left to die, when afterward we cry.

 

It seems so clear that some are chosen to live this way

while yet we stand and recognize oh just another day.

 

I walked one night along the planks of an icy bridge

there below no bottom to see only feet on a ridge.

 

The people sauntered by, seemingly so unaware

when I awoke and found my tears, again I swear.

 

There is always a question of just why and whom

so magnificent in aura we might reach the womb

 

A sedentary state it seems will be only our cause

to find the truth, to know reality beyond our Oz.

 

I walked alone one night along some icy concrete

out of mind, out of sight, my life was not complete.\

 

We wonder those, mourn their woes, yet the we

becomes ourselves inside this love, this factory.

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When A Friend’s Pain Defines Personal Purpose

I have a fairly good life. I am gainfully employed, live in a seemingly free country, with all the benefits of free speech and liberty. I have a family, we are all healthy. Our lives are determined by our actions. Given all of that reward I sometimes question my purpose, and I begin to doubt my ability, and I frame a rather skeptical outlook on my future. I’ll then beat myself up and struggle with the reality of my fortune. However, it is when I hear of the pain of someone in my life, close or connected that I really begin to recognize the gifts I have received. It is then I feel guilty for not appreciating what I have to live for.

That self-serving attitude causes a depression that can more often than not, be debilitating. I used to believe my depression was situational – created by short term events. I have now as I finish the 5th decade of my life realized my depression is clinical. I add fuel to it by recognizing an addictive personality – so many factors of my life have been defined by addiction. I feel fortunate to have responded to recovery in the manner I have. As a friend often says, life is good.

All that said, I believe life doesn’t really happen until you experience someone else’s pain. How many funerals have we walked away from where a person took their own life, and everyone is left with questions. It happens frequently and we are always sad, and for the moment, we do catalogue our own possibilities, and we do recognize how lucky our lives can be. But then reality sets in and life becomes again burdensome, and for me specifically I begin to question purpose.

Recently I was told of a friend’s battle with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. This friend is someone I knew in a previous time, and our lives have gone many directions in the last ten years. However, the impact of this news has literally shut me down and made me reflect again on what is my purpose. She is a beautiful person with beautiful children, and I can guarantee she did not choose this path in her final days. She’s younger than me, and today I am faced with the reality of finding perspective.

I spent this last weekend in my hometown, and I watched a music festival that was a lot of fun. My wife and I enjoyed the blues, and I spent rare time with my extended family. Whenever I return to my hometown, I am flooded with childhood memories, couple that with time with my family and it can be precarious. We came home refreshed and in good spirits and the foreboding feeling I receive when returning to my world seemed to creep up slowly. I again began to experience my depression, and the choices I make in my life become centered, and I began to wonder about purpose.

It was then I received an email about my friend. She was diagnosed recently and her condition is untreatable. Here is the quandary. Where I spend the night questioning my purpose and allowing my depression to win, suddenly I hear of this person who has everything in the world to live for and she knows it will be taken away. She doesn’t want that, not now, not in the prime of her life. I thought about her pain all night, and I realized that any time I feel sorry for myself I need to think of my friend and recognize I have chances that other people do not.

People are given windows into the lives of others for a reason. In this case, my friend’s pain is unfortunately my saving grace. I am not debilitated, I am not suffering a terminal illness, I am not losing my mind. God help me that those factors always evade me. Instead I will take her challenge as an inspiration that in her toughness might I show some strength in recognizing I do have a purpose in this life. I do need to move forward if not just for her, for my own well being.

Let’s pray we all might continue to find our purpose and strength to exemplify the life our friends and family might not have the luxury to fully experience.

Talking About Suicide

The other day I ran into an old friend. We had begun laughing about a coffee clutch of several gentlemen we knew that would gather daily in the summer. We’d both joined a couple of times, knew them all about as well as we knew one another, just regulars at a little coffee shop in our neighborhood. I hadn’t seen him for quite some time, and he told me that the circumstances of that gathering were a sad memory. I said I agreed, because I knew one of them had taken his own life a few years back. He nodded, we both sort of looked at each other, and then he told me another one had as well around the same time.

See, there were six guys, they all had morning routines, but they met for that 20 minutes or so for coffee and laughs, sometimes hung over, often times more powerful than the one next in their earnest desire to present their lives to one another – friends, coffee, beautiful summer mornings. I wondered about the remaining four, and how their lives had changed losing two friends, two members of a coffee clutch that seemed to last forever. I wondered about the true nature of a man’s loneliness to bring themselves to such desperate a measure as is, suicide.

See there is a lot of argument out there. A very dear friend of mine lost his brother many years ago to suicide. He would argue it is not a selfish act, whereby society for the most part might disagree because of the world left behind. But it is truly more than selfishness, because I would be willing believe not one successful suicide would ever imagine the fallout their actions will leave behind them. I do have to believe more often than not the act is one of a victim’s desperation so much so, they are unable to see any other options.

My friend and I on this day talked about the tragedy, and he said to me that there is more to life. He reminded me of his brother that he watched in chemo in a hospital room fighting every day of his life for a chance to live, and the same for all of the patients on that cancer ward.

See its hard to put it in a simple box of explanation. There certainly are those circumstances that lead to a sort of euthanasia frame of mind when struggling with a terminal and painful disease, but that raises the question of how some of the most afflicted people in the world will provide a more genuine smile than a healthy human being at the top of their game.

Suicide isn’t selective, we both agreed as we finished our coffee ready to go about our day. I think what was important for both of us was the validation of our existence and the appreciation for knowing two people whose lives had touched us in different ways and had made decisions we would always struggle to understand. In the meantime, we’d had a good talk and were lifted again in that standstill moment of time.

The Humanity of Letting Go

I feel things,

since living dark realities

a childhood

without scars,

yet, somehow beaten,

the foundation of

a quiet turmoil

always is that centering

point of personal fear.

 

In our society

we question judgment

public scrutiny,

filling the airwaves

is a certain attractive

seduction

meant to take our minds

away from our own

persecution.

 

Those silent moments

when the mind

allows the heart to breathe

there’s a sudden tightness

strangling physicality

that does have a pulse,

a reminder,

a constant of the human condition

within the framework

of some individualized society.

 

I cannot seem to walk away

from the burdens of my past,

yet,

the minds around me,

voices mouthing advice

seem to forget

or perhaps overlook,

this reflective nature

is the fuel

of a precarious

walk along the edge.

 

I would wonder

how long this loneliness

can exacerbate

my owned recall

of every single

tumultuous

moment in my life

when all

circumstance

overwhelms

a more seemingly sane

stance.

 

I would take a chance

on letting go,

if only I understood

the purposeful nature

of forgiveness.

Please Scream Rather Than Leave A Note – Suicide In Our Lives

spade

Kate Spade / Anthony Bourdain


The other day, I read a NYT article that indicated suicide rates are rising at an alarming rate since 1999. The same day CNN listed a similar statistic at 25% since 1999. This was the day after Kate Spade had taken her life. I thought it a natural followup of a tragic event. This morning I woke to the news of Anthony Bourdain. His series ‘Parts Unknown’ has been receiving high ratings on CNN for years. These are two prominent members of our society based upon their achievements over decades. Yesterday at a conference, a colleague of mine made the poignant statement, ‘suicide isn’t selective’ in its victim.
 ~
I’m really having a hard time wrapping my head around this. The first time I experienced suicide was when a friend of mine’s lover took his own life because he was terminal with cancer. I remember he lived a block away from me, and I probably could have heard the shotgun had I been on my deck, but I didn’t know about it until the next day. I remember his partner’s grief, and all the confusion that followed.
 ~
Years later, a man named Spaulding Gray wrote a wonderful piece called ‘Swimming To Cambodia’ and I immediately fell in love with his writing, his persona, though I remember being tempered when once interviewed, he stated that when he knows he is too sick to enjoy a quality of life, he will jump in the East river. His body was fished out of that same river two years later. I was devastated. and again not fascinated, more sickened by the reality of such a gesture.
 ~
In my own family, we have experienced such a tragedy, and there are never answers beyond the telling statement that depression is often a leading component in a person’s choice to take their own life. I’ve seen it too many times to count, and I still cannot wrap my head around it.
~
I know in my life I’ve struggled with depression more than I would like to admit. I’ve felt the dark moments that I suggest to all of my students as they go on to college or just live their present lives that when those moments arise, they have to call someone, they cannot allow themselves any other choice. I recognize the hypocrisy of my emotional reaction to this terrible outcome in the lives of so many people in our society and world.
 ~
Yet, all I can do today is speak to it from my heart. I didn’t personally know Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, Robin Williams, countless names in the public eye. I don’t know the names of all the people that the reader’s of this commentary have lost over the years. I only know the pain and confusion is real. I only know when my dark moments come, I cannot help but reflect upon the realities that exist around me on any given day.
 ~
I can only suggest that people use the hotline – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, rather than accepting someone’s final option as the only answer. There have got to be solutions, and more importantly there has to be a greater awareness and acceptance around the stigma that is attached to mental illness and depression.

AP File Photo

The Poetry of Suicide

Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 2.18.45 PM

A woman whom I do not know,

not even close,

took her life this morning.

~
It was in the news,

more grisly to the imagination,

than the simple passing,

the mortality of our

human condition.

~
Word was immediate,

she hanged herself.

~
Listen to the words,

hear them

resonate,

like a deep dark echo

on a hot summer night,

when we know,

somewhere,

something is wrong.

~
The thing about poetry is,

we write it as an expression,

sometimes we clear the air,

other times,

the toxic nature of our lives,

unfolds on paper,

the ink a spillage of prophecy,

and yet,

still no cure for depression.

~
Just words again,

words on words upon words,

and

still no cure for depression

~
I tell my kids,

the ones that listen in the classroom,

call someone,

use the phone, text,

use your mind to reach out,

despite the exhaustion,

yet there is that,

the fatigue piece,

whomever the motive

second-guessing

always here.

~
Have you met depression?

~
That dark place where every

misgiving one might possibly imagine

rears its ugly head,

it is incapacitating,

walls that do not exist,

screams that no one might ever hear,

and yet,

they do hear them,

incriminating, defeating, hopeless,

some of the words,

in the mind of the act,

while the rope tightens,

the air suffocating the misery,

the life lost in a couple of

real convulsions.

~
We lost a lot of people

in the pouring out of this ink,

there are more ahead,

tonight, last week, in a couple of days,

hours,

a few minutes from now,

there is someone will

forget they exist in a community,

find the door,

we are all welcome inside.


dedicated to the life of Kate Spade and all suicide victims past, present, future

Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255

(I’ve had my days, we all have, stick together please)

photo – Pinterest