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.

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The Beginnings of How We Believe

A young boy looks out to sea from the shores of the Greek islan

I suppose there has to be a little peace,

the mind in a restful state,

oh and music offers a solace,

an avenue to draw the heart

along a wonderful path of sweetness.

 

I remember as a child

there was this hilltop,

can’t call it a mountain,

but the anyway was the reach,

a gravel path to the cityscape.

 

I would sit there for morning,

often afternoons,

the evenings find me again,

it was a place where I would sit

in wonder about all the things I did.

 

I reflect today on that patch of gravel,

the rocks and stumps I chose

to sit upon, or perhaps a lean to

on a tree nearby, and I wonder

if I knew now what I worried then.

 

There is a certain beauty in finding peace,

when we can believe,

we know in our hearts the right thing,

the world of humanity,

is designed around the concept of love.


Photo found on savethechildren.org

 

 

Different Set of Eyes

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Yesterday morning, while sitting in a writing lab with a student, we both received notifications at the same time, about the Houston tragedy – Tragedy in Texas – and we talked for a minute or two of our sadness. We exchanged the usual, it keeps happening, oh that’s scary, terrible, any number of coined phrases that are now attached to school shootings. But then I turned to her and I asked her,

“How do you feel about that?” and I looked her directly in the eye.

She paused for a moment, and then replied, “I’m sorry, but the first thing I think about is White people,” and she tried to restrain a natural smile, not one of happiness but one of timid reality that she lives in every day. See this young woman is Latina, and her mindset does not comprehend such an acceptance of school shootings. She believes the ‘mental health’ attachment is just another way of protecting the White community.

I looked at her and said, “You’re right.” But I was just beginning to think about the reality of her words. I couldn’t get past it the rest of the day. In my class later on in the morning, when the subject came up, there she was again, and this time her response was that society just allows it to happen because they can wrap it around a ‘mental illness’ label. I wondered if the rest of our society might see it as clearly as she does. I thought about her world.

In her scope of reasoning she has other concerns. Number one, she lives in a world where ICE is constantly knocking on her door, her friend’s door, family, acquaintances who every day wake up wondering if this is the day – will someone today lose their rights and feel the anxiety of having their family, lifestyle ripped apart. Certainly, it is a different measure than the immediacy of a school shooting leaving the slain to disrupt the lives of their family and friends, but hers is a unique pain.

I honestly don’t believe there is a concern in her world that anyone she is close to would ever resort to bringing a weapon to school and gunning down anyone in their presence. But I do think she walks around school, with her observant insight, wondering what next. What will be the next offense that will bear down on her society.

I’ve thought about my conversation with this young woman for the last 24 hours. She has given me new insight into what it is each of us thinks about every day, what are our central concerns, who do we worry about, and rather, when we think of an emotional commitment, what end holds confidence in our survival? Where she might be in constant motion trying to balance her world, her education, her work life all in a genuine effort to survive in America as a Latina woman, I’m on the other hand thinking about what plans I have for the weekend, and how can I pace my grading through the end of school year.

I don’t worry about losing my family to an immigration sweep. I do worry about school shootings, and I am constantly confused by how it continues to occur and how our society is gradually hypnotized into this absurd level of acceptance. She on the other hand holds a very sharp and poignant answer that when the rest of us stop and think about it, reveals a posture in our society that seems easily put aside.

Perhaps we are erring when we simply call it mental health rather than privilege.


photo taken from Pinterest

The Passing, of a Day

When begins insurmountable

task,

the waking anxiety,

a desire to burrow

rather than the music of the day.

 

We all seemingly rise to

a pattern

so familiar, oddly routine,

sometimes forgetting

simple beauty.

 

Our lives caught up in the now,

my mother used to say,

he’s a now

person referring to life,

whenever my depression would fail me.

 

Inside the passing

of hours

a remarkable dream,

perhaps a positive

an outcome of smiles.

 

Inside the passing of a day,

so much magic

allows the human condition

to love,

to understand, to breathe, to live.

Passing Cars, Traveling Lives

When I was a little boy,

leaving nose prints on the picture

window,

in the rain, the streaks I’d follow

a free hand, fingertips,

tracing this world in some design.

 

When I was a little boy,

I’d watch the travelers

all of them pointed in some

direction,

a quiet neighborhood,

I’d often know the cars,

know they were watching me,

nose prints on a rainy day.

 

When I was just yesterday,

I wondered about time,

if it were ever really the same,

or if with practice,

would our lives intersect,

like the cars milling by,

the neighborhood

would only speak,

if shouts were ever heard.

 

While I wonder quiet about time,

I watch and hope for every time

the rains fall the glass of windows still

remind me of my childhood, if I will.

I Am Affected

I am affected by maybe one, perhaps two,

often it might be you,

the state of mind I carry through my day,

coordinates with how I feel, how I say,

I’m doing

just okay,

and then the hours creep on by

until later in my own quiet solace,

I realize the two, maybe one,

maybe it is you,

I’m still reeling over trying to segue

into a world without the influence

of a demon,

of a skeleton,

of all that is built upon shame and addiction,

on the throes of our own sacrifice,

I’m affected,

by the simple notion of hurting someone

beyond myself,

based upon some silly luxury of

self abasement,

the notion of realizing just how human

our frailty in life,

has become,

has warranted some rediculous

attention upon the here and now,

even though just a second

ago,

just minutes before the letters even hit

the tablet,

the idea of a beautiful evening,

startlit with sweet mystique

seemed to matter more than any one

judgment created by the simple

anxiety of a singular

emotion.

Some Times While Waiting

Easily we might understand the loss of time,

when we did hope there would be some remind

of a sweeter revenue

in the gifts of our humankind.

 

So often is it true when we wake

from a lesson learned,

an anxious melody of circumstance,

and gathering our senses seem surreal.

 

Walking along the avenue, we notice

a person lost inside their own reality,

yet to the onlooker,

for deep within we know not their serenity.

 

Cast a shadow upon this my truth,

while the world around me does

restore me some time to when in my youth,

I knew only love, only peace … in my youth.