Another suicide took place this morning…
“Life is trouble. Only death is not.” Nikos Kazantzaki, Zorba the Greek
So many suicides. So many people searching for an end to the trouble that is life. Why did we ever believe that life would be different to what it is?
I understand suicide. Twenty years ago I attempted suicide for pretty much the same reasons that have prompted the current suicide epidemic in Hellas. Debt…debt and hopelessness. I can understand just wanting to end it all, but in truth I am really glad I never succeeded.
Twenty years later I realise that the desperation I felt back then was transitory. A brief period of an otherwise wonderful, colourful and interesting life. In all truth my life was vastly improved by my earlier hardship, disgrace and defeat.
So why does one do it? What thoughts go through a person’s mind in those days, hours, minutes and seconds before one commits suicide.
One feels intense anger. Anger at whatever caused the problem combined with the notion that one’s death will speak in louder volumes than one’s life would. As if in death, one could defeat the enemy that one never could in life. Today’s suicide was no different. His note directly mentioned the economic crisis and his subsequent debt as the cause of his death. As did some of the other suicides.
Suicide is the voice of futility. It is the sound of crushed dreams. It is the swan song of the disappointed idealist and optimist who at some point believed that the world was filled with goodness, and that all people were essentially good. Now although this innate goodness may be true on higher levels, one is heading for a crash to walk through life as if one’s well being is a given or that one is invincible.
“Look, one day I had gone to a little village. An old grandfather of ninety was busy planting an almond tree. ‘What, grandfather!’ I exclaimed. ‘Planting an almond tree?’ And he, bent as he was, turned around and said: ‘My son, I carry on as if I should never die.’ I replied: ‘And I carry on as if I was going to die any minute.’
Which of us was right, boss?” Nikos Kazantzaki – Zorba the Greek
To live with the conscious knowledge of one’s impending death or to live believing that nothing will ever mortally wound us…which is wiser? Which life philosophy is designed to make you cautiously tend to your own survival and value your life? Which prepares us better for the harsh realities of a post modern society?
Unfortunately people have high expectations. They want to believe that everything means them well, only to they find themselves knee deep in the muck and gore of a dog eat dog world with a thousand mongrels at their heels. It is enough to make anyone panic and make mistakes. So they tilt at windmills, and maybe one day something happens that makes death seem preferable. Oh, why do we feel the need to cling to our expectations? How can we not feel powerless when trying to control the world within our minds?
Give up on illusions and unattainable ideals but never give up hope that you will survive hardship, like a tree that survives winter. Give up on status and what polite society deems respectability but do not ever be defeated by failing to meet up to your own high expectations. They were impossible dreams anyway. There will be so much joy and more pain in the five, ten or twenty years from the time you felt desperate enough to consider taking your life but living will be worth it all. If you allow your despair to be the death of your illusions alone, nothing will ever hurt you as much again.
“When everything goes wrong, what a joy to test your soul and see if it has endurance and courage! An invisible and all-powerful enemy—some call him God, others the Devil, seem to rush upon us to destroy us; but we are not destroyed.” ― Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek
But sometimes we are destroyed. Destroyed long before we took our lives. Destroyed by the mortal wound left by what reason can no longer us allow us to love or believe in. Destroyed by alienating ourselves from those who will mourn us when we are gone. And even strangers will mourn, as surely as today I mourn for the pensioner who shot himself in the middle of the road in Kifissia this morning.
I understand why he felt the need to fight with his last breath. I only wish he had seen a glimpse of the future triumph that living would have been. Living defiantly in the face of hardship says a lot too.