‘To die will be an awfully big adventure’, says Peter Pan in the homonymous 1904 play by J.M. Barrie. In the picture Betty Bronson as Peter Pan trying to steal the clock from the saltwater crocodile’s mouth in the first film adaptation from 1924.
I’m absolutely positive that almost every single person in this world (or at least in this society) must have considered attempting suicide at least once in their lives. Or if nothing else the thought, the fantasy, has crossed their minds. Be it because you were about to be evicted, because you were fired from work and couldn’t pay your bills or feed your kids, because you ended up living in the streets, because you developed an addiction to some substance, because you couldn’t cope with the loss of someone dear or a broken heart… Or because you were merely depressed or stressed (and clinical stress has nothing to do with being too busy; you can actually be very stressed by doing virtually nothing, but us people with some anxiety disorder know damn well what it means to get stressed due to overthinking and negative anticipation).
I already talked about my suicide attempt in another entry and what a taboo it is, mainly due to Christian morals. That’s why to some people the mere thought of it leads to some self reprimand and judgment. But as I said we’ve all have gone through grim times overflowed with anger, disappointment, mistrust towards the human species and general nihilism. The only thing that changes is the way we approach those dark stages. Some seem to get their energy from who-knows-where (sometimes it’s a mere sense of commitment and responsibility to those beloved; others, as I said, just a quick dismissing of the thought) and carry on. Others… are not so lucky to be able to gather that strength and just end the pain permanently (even if it was meant as a temporary measure, since there’s no turning back). Actually it’s not even a stage, sometimes. It also has a lot to do with the times we’ve been forced to live (an economic crisis, for instance), besides our biological specificities. Most of the times things escape our control, although we’re told by self-help gurus and cheap new age philosophies that life is some sort of indecipherable mystery and a lonely road of self discovery that is only fit for the strong and the brave. Neoliberal bullshit.
Also, overinformation/disinformation through media fuels the anguish, the existential void and the sense of guilt even more.
As I said, I do believe people just face it differently. The average individual just drinks, smokes and dances the pain away every weekend to be able to endure the cycle of work and lifetime commitments. But in my so far short life I’ve also witnessed two other types who are actually two sides of the same coin. In fact I might belong to one of those types.
Basically, the premise is the same as in the average group: escapism. But there is a slight difference: death seems to rule the lives of these types in one way or another. They’ve either experienced it themselves (they’ve been close to death or they’ve witnessed someone else’s death with the subsequently huge impact this may have had in their own lives), or they’ve sense it somehow (usually, fear and anxiety have made them want to know more about it, as their surroundings tried to evade or conceal everything about it).
The first type just painfully realizes through some event or a chain of events that life can feel terribly unjust, lonely and sad. They’re driven by a force that draws them to death and they try to fight it constantly and express their sorrow and pain through some constructive means, usually through some form of art (when they can afford it, that is). And they bawl their eyes out by writing music, poetry, painting, acting and whatnot. They hope this will provide them with answers or at least with the strength to carry on those other average people out there seem to find so ‘easily’. Once in a while they might flirt with the idea (or even the act) of dying, and there will be a bunch of self-destructive phases every now and then, when the struggle becomes just too exhausting. In the end, for those who choose that path, creativity can be a terribly painful process, and depending on it just to keep hanging on, drags you and consumes you slowly. Whether they succeed in releasing themselves forever from the pain is just a matter of chance.
The other type is kind of fascinating to me. They’ve basically driven by that same Todestrieb (thanathos impulse) throughout their lives due to some traumatic experience or extreme sensitivity (or both); but instead of trying to fight the urge to kill themselves they just act constantly in a defiant manner towards death. To sum up they’re basically daredevils who live life in the fast lane, who look at all the misery and at death itself straight in the eye and give them their middle finger. Or a wink. Or a kiss. From the pragmatical perspective of the basic survival instinct they’re not bound to last long, and the extent of their life will usually be a matter of luck. It can’t be helped to get burned if you persistently play with fire, and you can outsmart what’s by no means a matter of wit, but a matter of physics, biology, kinetics or whatever (whether you drink, or smoke, or take drugs a lot, or you drive at 100mph on an interstate road, just to give a couple of examples). This type will eventually die, and apparently not because they were proactively looking for it, although we might never get to know their ulterior motives.
I definitely belong more to the first type, but I’ve met quite a few people who belong to the second type (I actually have a friend who can fit that description) and they fascinate me. Actually, I envy them and I’m not going to lie. Even if “common sense” tells me I shouldn’t. I’ve always found that brazenness, that impudence, that cockiness really cool. I don’t care if people see it as an immature behaviour or it’s a pantomime that masks actual despair instead of a calculated choice. What’s not a farce after all in this crazy world? I wish I had the courage to live without thinking too much, as these types do, instead of thinking too much about life and/or living. And sorry, but choosing the average lifestyle is not an option, as arrogant as it may sound.
Life’s not something you sign a long term contract with, just as you do with your mobile phone operator. Some people can’t even choose when to quit and the fact that you’re not even allowed to make that decision on your own due to cultural or religious constraints just pisses me off. I know absolute freedom does not exist at all, and that the fact that death ends up becoming the ultimate liberation in such a twisted world sounds kind of sad. But I’d rather fuck life (and death)’s brains out that let life fuck (with) mine.
*A verse from hide’s song Misery (1996)