Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Saturday, June 09, 2012

The Darkness Within

It starts with a phone call or maybe an email. It's from someone unexpected, but not unfamiliar. You just haven't heard from them in a while.

And because of something - the timing of when it arrives, or how they are talking, you know. Someone killed themselves.

A few weeks ago my friend Sid and I found out someone we knew had done it about 3 years ago.

When I got home from Tokyo yesterday, I found out a college friend did, about 2 weeks ago. I went to a memorial event today. Low-key, but it was clear the people he knew loved him, cared for him, enjoyed having him around.

I have another friend who seems to be edging close.

We all have darkness within. For some, it's mere penumbra, and the slightest light - the dawn's rays, a friendly smile from a stranger, a nice cup of coffee - is all that is needed to banish it for the day.

For others, that darkness is vast and deep, a mineshaft at the bottom of the sea. The sun seems an uncaring, distant reminder of passing time. People are awful. And the things that gave us pleasure, distraction, or escape become gray and flavorless prisons.

As does life itself.

Time goes by, it gets harder and harder to see the light. It gets hard to talk about or acknowledge to anyone. You start to feel embarrassed or ashamed for feeling the way you feel, even though there is no escape.

You either find a way back towards the light - even if just for one day - or one day, it's your name in that phone call or email.

I know this because I lived in that undersea mineshaft for a long time. I got out with some help. Mostly from trained professionals, but also from a few very important individuals (they know who they are, and aren't).

Even though it's been a long time since I was in such a dark place, I know what it is like. It is oddly seductive, and sometimes, I even miss it. It calls to me sometimes, especially when it is late and I am tired, or when things get really tough. When I'm alone for too long.

I try to take a walk outside, no matter the weather. I do something nice for myself or other people. I think about how good tomorrow's coffee will be. The darkness fades.

I write this for the people it's too late to reach. But I also write it for those still with us, who can still be reached.

You are not alone, even if you think you are. Tomorrow will be better. Or the day after that.

There is always a way back. There is always sunshine, far above the gray skies.
It takes your mind 
You've got sucker's luck 
Have you given up? 
Does it feel like a trial? 
Does it trouble your mind 
The way you trouble mine?