Sunday, July 25, 2010

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Right now, I'm at my brother Doug's in Conifer, Colorado, with Mark (the writer) and Roy. 

Mark took me up to Mount Evans to the spot where I had driven my car off a cliff back in 1991 and almost died.  I had discussed this suicide attempt with Roy the day before, and he let cat out of the bag in his blog to the public.  So now is the time to share it publicly.  I had wanted to reveal it in my own time, perhaps in a special website for suicidal people and survivors, but it looks like now is the time, now is the blog, as premature as it feels.  But what is, is, and the point of living this path is to completely accept what is.  I choose what is, the good, the bad, the ugly.  There is no greater liberation than choosing What Is.  Call it Submission. 

I didn't really choose the publicity I've gotten.  But now that it's here, I choose it.  I didn't choose the praise and the hateful slander, but now that it's here, I choose it.  It's all a rare tool, and I must use it well, now that it's been granted me.  I've been saying for the past few months that I decided to make my life an open book, including the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Whitewashed lives are no help.  I'm telling Mark about it for his book, which is one of the reasons we came here, to see the site of my suicide attempt on Mount Evans. 

My clinical depression, with its suicidalism, is a thing of the past, and my life as it is now is borrowed time, precious time.  Why not now use it to help my fellow humans out of the darkest quagmires of hell?

An in-law in my extended family had committed suicide during the last time I was in Alaska (August, 2007), and I knew then that it was time to take a big chance and talk about my own suicide attempt with the extended family.  So I wrote this letter to the survivors of the family.  They wrote back and told me how helpful it was, and that they had even shared it with suicide support groups.  I then decided I should use it in a special website.  I had no idea I would put it in this blog, but here it is.  (I've deleted names for their privacy, where brackets are), I decided to post it with original spelling & grammar errors:

I'm still in Homer, maybe going to hitch out soon. . . .

Please read & consider what I'm saying, and if you feel it is worthwhile, forward it to [the rest of the family]:

I'm hoping this helps you all out to tell you this. I never know how much news spreads through the family or not, and what you know about my car wreck 15 years ago, or if even I talked to you about it.

My car wreck off the cliff in Mount Evans in Colorado was a suicide attempt. I thought it would be failsafe, that in no way I could survive - but I did. And now I live to tell you about what [M's]point of view might have been. I didn't know it at the time, but I was suffering from severe clinical depression. I knew something was wrong, but didn't know it was an actual disease. One day I got up at 3AM & realized I had gone a whole month without experiencing even 5 minutes of even the least happiness, and that I was sinking deeper & deeper into a black hole, with not a single glimmer of light at the end of any tunnel, not a spark of hope. I was going weeks without sleep - except maybe 5 min or an hour per night, so my brain couldn't even function. I couldn't hold conversation, couldn't decide, and I was too tired to hardly lift myself from bed. I felt like hell was a reality, & I was in it. No matter what people said or did to help, nothing helped, nothing could help. But then I figured out a solution - finally, a solution that I thought would work. Kill myself! The idea of it was so freeing, &, strangely, and FINALLY the ONLY thought that brought me happiness!

And here's the rationalization that went through my head. The thing that had kept me from going through with it in the past was the thought of how it would hurt the loved ones around me . But I had finally reached a critical point - a point when I felt I had no more choice. I could see that all my loved ones had at least some strength to experience happiness, unlike me, and that we all die and would have to face death, of both ourselves & others. I finally had to put all of our pain in the scales, and thought that the pain I was experiencing now was way worse than even the pain my suicide could inflict on others! They could handle it, I thought, but I couldn't even now handle a moment's more pain. From my perspective then, I simply had NO OTHER CHOICE! I also felt like my whole being was in self-destruct, ready to die, like any creature that is ready to die. My brain was an organ that had sparked its last strength, just like a heart that is worn out beats its last beat. I simply could not fight it any more, could not resist death, death that we all must face sooner or later. And family & friends would simply have to deal, just as they would have to deal if I had had cancer, and just as humans & creatures have had to deal with death zillions of times over zillions of years in the past! And in 100 years all of us would be dead & gone & all forgotten anyway!

But I didn't know, until after I had been taken to the hospital, that I had an actual disease, a treatable disease. However, ironically, even though nothing anybody could have said or did could help me, I still had thought that my happiness somehow depended on people & things around me, so I was constantly reaching for something or somebody OUTSIDE OF ME to help me. Little did I realize that the problem was INSIDE ME, that I was suffering endless loops of negative thought about everything & everybody. Little did I know that if I gave up negative & judgmental thoughts, my depression would go away with them! I didn't realize that NOBODY could help me if I clung to my old thought patterns, which totally distorted my whole world view, making the universe a living hell.

After having gone through it, and found my way out of depression, I have had to assure family & friends that they were in no way responsible for my depression or suicide attempt. Nothing they could have said or done could have made it better. The responsibility was fully mine. But I also give myself slack & forgiveness, too, because, on the other hand, it was truly a disease I was suffering. It is chemical & it is cognitive. The chemical feeds the cognitive & the cognitive feeds the chemical in the cyclic nature of it.

For you survivors, NEVER even let your minds do the "shoulda coulda" thing, even for a second. That begins a cognitive disorder in yourselves, which spreads the disease. What is, is, and no amount of thinking can go back in time - so why even try for even a second? Just let this be an opportunity to love each other more deeply & more fully, more than ever before. Shoulda coulda thoughts keep our minds away from loving one another, here and now. Shoulda coulda is destructive & damning to both ourselves and everybody around us.

So there you have it.

With much love,


Thursday, July 01, 2010

Human Miracles

Enter Roy

The day after I re-entered civilization from my soul-searching retreat in the canyon a few weeks ago, a dude named Roy showed up in town from LA to begin a life without money.  He was determined to come, and his determination and positive attitude has inspired me to no end!  And my feeling weak these days is totally good, to remind me that if anything is taught, it isn't from me.

He even started a blog about all this.

The uncommonly common amidst uncommon uniqueness

Like Carolyn, Roy has something deeply unique and mysterious about him.  But unlike Carolyn, who has a demeanor of calm patience, Roy has an exuberant, go-getter personality.  All the folks who have hooked up with me so far have been tantalizingly different from each other and from me--both the newcomers into town and my local friends already here.  Yet there's a certain commonality among us all that intrigues me to no end, that I can't put my finger upon.  It's bare, raw sincerity--yes, I think that's it!  Usually, when we look for friends, for people to love, we look for people just like us--you know, like in dating services.  But what blows me away now is how we all are so different, and yet we have an indescribable love for one another.  It's a commonality beyond understanding.

If anybody should have a book written about him...

Roy's life fascinates me to no end.  He is straight out of hard-core, LA Latino culture; he was a fitness trainer, a military man, then a professional poker player, before coming here.  While in the army he had a spiritual epiphany and became a pacifist, getting himself out of the military against all odds (being disgraced by his military superiors and peers).  He then made easy money from poker, and, by all appearances, "having it made," he found himself gliding up the economic scale, feeling like he'd never have to really work again.  But he realized he felt unfulfilled.  He did what virtually any other person would never dare to do:  he decided to give it all up, give up all his money, his car, his house, and he came to Moab.  On top of that, his parents drove him to Moab all the way from LA, and basically gave him their blessing.  How unusual is it for parents to do something like that?   They hugged me as they left. 

Roy is a challenge junky and a genius and is driven by a divine wisdom that I've rarely seen so clearly in a human.  He blows all stereotypes and astounds me.

The past week-and-a-half that Roy has been here has been packed with fun.  The love and hospitality of my friends has shone bright as the sun.  We've gone to a few parties, including a couple jams, some hikes, and the community of Free Meal.  Here's a pic of a going-away jam for Aaron and Amanda (they just left for Costa Rica).  I'm usually not such a socialite.

Roy was prepared (and hoping) for some hard-core survivalist living and random challenges, and discovered that my Moab life is pretty cush right now.  This is the first summer I haven't left Moab and haven't wandered the US since I gave up money, I think.  It's when I'm on the road that the magic of random blessings happen most clearly, as well as trials taking me to my wits end (Usually the magical random blessings happen right when I'm at my wit's end).  Of course, this is what appeals to a young person like Roy, wanting to be baptized into the heart of life.   

I was considering hitting the road for Roy's sake, to give him a taste of the magical roll of the dice.  But I have a couple obligations keeping me here this summer, and I have to be here early October as well.  I've been using this summer to hang out, develop community,  farm, meditate, and write--taking a needed reprieve from years of past summer wandering.  We were talking about hitting the road in late July, train-hopping and hitching for a few weeks,  coming back, then going to the west coast in later October and trying for hitching to Hawaii.  But Roy was itching to plunge in now before the Hawaii plan.

So Roy, in his spontaneity, decided to put on his pack and hitch-hike out of Moab this morning, wander around the US, with zero money, for maybe 3 months, then return in October for our next venture.  It seems right he go through this baptism by fire first.  His teacher won't be me, but the Laws of Chance, otherwise called the mind of God.  He has the perfect attitude for it.

Love through the fires

Meanwhile, there've been other things I've been processing.  Before Roy came, I went through some way hard, humbling stuff, as I alluded to in the last post, and some of my best friends witnessed me at my weakest.  Such things either make or break friendships.  Hmm, I think I must say that my friends', and especially Brer's, highly noble character has shown through all this, as his light shines through everything.  Oh, yeah, that's him and his daughter, Veda (I don't think I've ever before witnessed a human who savors and unabashedly celebrates life as she does.  It's astounding, in fact).


I added another FAQ to the website (#31. Why are you an extremist? Shouldn't you follow the Middle Way between extremes?) and hope to add other writings.