Grand kids. Nope, this one isn’t cheery and fun. It’s not what you think. You see, I sat in the dark room with both of my infant children while they slept one night and apologized to them for having not stuck to my guns of having no children; bringing no one new into this shitty world. I hope my children find their place in the sun instead of under my cloud, and so I do my best to help them. I can’t lead by example there, but I can do my best to point out possible paths, and have done so. Since my daughter plans on giving me grands, I sigh and realize I have to try and stick around, be funny old “Grump,” and try to do the same for them. I’m not really looking forward to it. See? Not what you thought it would be, was it?
This one involves another story. A book titled The Iron Dragon’s Daughter is a story of a changeling. A young girl abducted from this world to the world of faerie. Essentially she was a slave to the Elves (think Teutonic, not Keebler or Santa Claus), and eventually broke free with the help of the “iron dragon.” Dragons were actually constructs, sentient, but the equivalent of our fighter jets. It too had broken free of its bondage, but needed a pilot to exert its full capabilities against the elves, and god of this world, that they both hated with an all-consuming passion. That last becomes the telling point, because toward the end, they find that they can reach the realm of god, that the iron dragon can get them there after all, and with its fire power, they can bring their war directly to her! They don’t make it. They have to fly through the Void, the sea of randomness at the edge of the universe, to get there, and it dissolves them. So she wakes up in “heaven,” and god, in the guise of a small child girl, storms up to her and starts railing at her about how She kept putting opportunities for a good life in her path, good things that would have taken the sting out of the bad, but in the end, “You didn’t even kiss him!” is the line that stuck with me in that tirade for some reason. The kidnapped girl then woke in the world she came from, so the author kind of cheats as you never really know if it was just a coma dream, or if she was actually there. The point though is that I don’t want to someday stand before God, and saved or not, have him chide me that I “never even kissed her!” I’m going to tough it out, try the caviar, ride the roller coaster (though I’m terrified of heights), walk in the woods, and find as many of those small moments, so that at least what He’ll be able to say is to sigh and say, “You missed a few,” rather than rail at me that I threw it all away.
Because maybe I can encourage others. I’m not talking about just suicide here. I have two favorite stories that I like to tell to illustrate this. First let me say that when I was teaching physics and astronomy labs at the university level, well, if there’s anything more boring than having to do those labs, it’s watching other people do them. Trust me on that. As a result, I’d often get to rambling while staying in the room with the students. I’d talk about just about anything with them. One time I got to talking about being on stage in a play. That was one of my better times. I miss it. Introvert I may be, but donning someone else and stepping out to lights and applause is a rush that I’ll never forget. After lab, this young engineering student came up to me and started talking about how he too loved to act and would love to actually be a theatre major, but his parents would never go for that. I just looked at him and said, “Okay, so minor in it.” His eyes got wide and he asked, “You can do that?” I said, “Of course you can! And just think, you’ll have an engineering degree, and can go out to California or up to New York, take your lunch breaks to hit casting calls or take a day off or whatever, and all the while you’re waiting for that ‘big break,’ instead of a ‘starving waiter’ you’re a starving engineer. You have to chase the dream. Lightning strikes.” I don’t know if he took that suggestion, but there it is. I made that day for him if nothing else.
In a similar situation, I had a young art student tell me, when I was relating the above story, that the Art Department told them that “having a back-up plan is planning to fail.” I shook my head at her and said, “No, they’re wrong. Letting the back-up become the plan is planning to fail. Having a back-up that will keep you fed while you’re waiting for your break to come is just being prudent. Just never let that become the plan. Never stop drawing. Never stop writing.
Never stop dancing. Put yourself out there; just make sure you can still eat while you’re doing it.” Hers was not as strong a reaction, but I could tell from her expression that I’d given her something to think about. That’s part of my job. That’s part of why I’m here. And I’m not finished yet.
As much as I, well, hate people, occasionally you meet someone with just the most interesting story, or ideas, or personality. They’re able to get me thinking, even if I honestly couldn’t stand to be around them on a constant basis. They’re interesting for that moment, and who knows, maybe it’s not just that moment, and then I’m adding to that short list of people I actually like, and that’s a good thing!
There are stories I haven’t written, and others I haven’t read. There’s seriously nothing better than a good story. When you’re down, pick up a new book, even a comic book or three, and just lose yourself in it for a time. Sit down with some paper and just write a story. Then throw it away or burn it if that’s your thing. This is for me, or for you, not for anyone else anyway, so don’t let them see it. The thing is that a good story can reach inside you. You can identify with some aspect of it, and while I can see that that might not be a good thing, usually it is a good thing. It reminds you that someone else has been where you are. How do I know that? That writer wrote about it, didn’t they? Think about what that means for a moment. Think about what it means if one of my reasons in this list resonates with you. In the end, you’re not alone. Someone’s been there. Someone can listen and truthfully say, “I know, and I’m so very sorry you’re having to deal with this too.”
Here’s some silly, frivolous reasons that I’m not going to cheat and spread out as several. There’s tomorrow’s dinner. Sure I generally have little interest in food, but every once in a while…Ah, that was uniquely good and excellent. As an example, my wife recently made some homemade mac & cheese. She cooked the noodles, and set them aside. She then mixed milk, cream cheese, shredded Gouda, and Colby-jack cheeses into the pot until it was all gooey, then added the mac back in and mixed it all up. Folks, it’s silly for something so common and simple, but holy cow was that good! It was amazing! I’m looking forward to her doing it again, as silly as that may sound, but it was good! Beyond that there are paintings and sculptures in museums that I haven’t seen. There are forests I haven’t walked in. All these things, and though to date reality has been very chary with letting me do these things, that may change tomorrow, are things I want to do and haven’t done yet. So though I often want to cry when I wake up in the morning because my eyes opened (wish I could cry, but haven’t been able to do that for over a decade now), maybe the day will surprise me after all, and I’ll have something happen to open up the opportunity to cross one of those things off: I’ve now done this!
Why? This one is kind of related to #7 too. For me the question is never “Why not?” It’s always “Why?” If I can’t come up with a reason for doing something, then to me that’s a good indicator that it shouldn’t be done. Therefore, with regards to suicide, why should I do it? Am I tired? Sure, so I should go lay down and take a nap, or sit down and write something like this, or go play a mindless video game for a few hours. Sure I’m not up and raring to go after any of that, but if it’s just that I’m tired that I’m wanting to kill myself, what kind of a reason is that? Okay, so I’m angry and bitter at the world! Well, yes, yes I am. That’s not a reason to check out though. That, in fact, is a reason to hold on; to again fly the middle finger at the world and all the things and people that want to drag you down. Once again, “Ha! Mother fucker! Ha!”