The Death Choice
I am standing on a precipice. I’ve been here before. At least twice. Perhaps more, and probably ‘precipice’ is over-dramatic, but I think I’m worth it.
I am contemplating throwing my life, such as it is, out the window. To the wind. Like so much torn-up paper or cat litter or M&M’s. Some smallish bits you can hold in your hand and cast away and watch them float or crash or pelt unsuspecting passers-by. Life parts. Shredded and mulched and mangled beyond recognition.
Let me stress that I do not mean to throw my actual life away. I’m not that desperate at all, and haven’t been for years. I’m sure we’ve all been there, thinking, “eh, it would be so much easier to just not deal with this thing, or these things, and be done with it all, finally.” But something, chocolate maybe, keeps you from cutting the string. No, all I mean is that the model of my life, its structure or edifice or monument, I want to take a sledgehammer to big parts of it and really lay into it and smash it all to bits.
You can’t really discard your life bits, you know. Not when you have other people’s lives entwined with your own. You start tearing and you rip into someone else. It can’t be helped, no matter how hard you try to keep yourself unconnected. I know. I’ve tried. So you stand back for a little while and look at it from different perspectives and try to decide if you can, literally, live with your life for a little while until the messier bits come into alignment and the disassembly is a little bit neater, or if you can’t go on like this another day and you need to take that first big swing and stand back as the fissures and cracks work their way through it all and stuff starts to fall away.
I have a very big hammer in my hands.
Now, let me also add that this is not related to my recent foray into therapy as related on these pages elsewhere. My problems there are of a more personal, relationshippy nature and not the sort of thing one can clobber with emotional power tools, lest one accidentally sever a gas line and blow everything to hell. No, the direct action here is on more surface-oriented things. Certainly they affect everything else and can improve my happiness quotient and/or depress me greatly due to a myriad of unknowns coming into play that, if I were of a more proactive and forthright nature, might not be factors at all.
(I must, unfortunately, be rather cagey here about certain decisions because… well, I can’t really even go there because… golly, this is harder than I thought. And why am I even writing about it when I can’t actually say anything about it? Is it, perhaps, because obscure references amuse me and I can’t feel “real” about this without broadcasting it in a secretive but oh-so-public manner?)
What I will do, then, is skirt around the details and instead be all mysterious and sly and what I like to call “sexy,” because talking about one’s life in a way that reveals nothing is a lot like a first date, isn’t it?
Hey, so, Friendster? What the fuck is that?
Okay. I shall attempt to keep from jumping around quite so much but promise nothing. (I cut my fingernails last night and probably too short and now I think my fingers look like saysages.) It’s interesting to reach the end of one’s rope, is it not? Because you’re still clinging onto something, your feet dangling in mid-air, you can’t look down easily to see how far away the safety of the ground is, and crawling back up that rope feels harder than just letting go, at last, and accepting whatever comes no matter how hard it hurts.
This I also know: I am afforded the luxury of deciding to change my life rather than having change thrust upon me. I am not being pushed into something out of my control. In one sense, anyway. I mean, obviously, if I felt that everything was in my control there would be nothing to change, would there? The point being that I could just continue moving along the same path I have been on for a while and continue slipping between misery and apathy and hide everything under a rug made of clothes shopping and kitten playfulness and unending TiVo’d reruns of Harvey Birdman.
Or, I can open the Book of the Dread and face some uncomfortable things in the short term to hopefully make my way to the other end of this mid-life crisis or whatever it is. I am not, in other words, in a place that I cannot return from.
Unless I pull the wrong thread and everything unravels. Every carefully considered pose and every cautious decision. Falling into shreds at my feet.
And then what?
My “worst possible scenario” has always been death, i.e. “would it be worse to be in this job in New Jersey working for a company I hate and don’t trust for another six months, or to be dead?” If I decide, “I would rather be dead than do this…” see how simple that makes everything? I mean, c’mon, that’s the worst possible scenario. “Would I rather live on the streets and eat someone else’s discarded two-day-old Egg McMuffin and not shower and shit into mailboxes… or be dead?” If you have no other choice, and you choose death, well there you have it. Simple.
If you have a choice, like quitting the job in the above example and moving from New Jersey if you hate it even if doing so means selling everything you own because you’re too dumb to actually save money for a rainy day such as that and maybe moving back home for a time or living on a friend’s couch or what have you rather than, you know, offing yourself because you can’t face the alternative, then you take the choice.
I’m not recommending this solution for everyone, mind you, but it does help put things in perspective.
So anyway, my recent relative quiet here (again) has been that my head has been otherwise occupied and I haven’t had time to speak with all my very good friends such as you. I’m doing the Death Choice. I’m weighing the alternatives, talking with people for their opinions (if I haven’t spoken to you it’s because you would not be affected by any decision I am likely to make in this case, so it’s not a reflection of trust, rather it’s a question of bother) thinking about what I can do short term, long term and, given absolutely no other option, death.
Luckily for me, there are lots of options to choose from, but they all involve One Big Step. So that’, as I said, is where I am now. At the precipice. Looking out. Looking down. Feeling how cold the wind is. Trying to see if there’s anyone below I will hit on the way downor if there is anyone to catch me. I don’t tend to look for someone to catch me. It’s not in my nature. When I fall, I fall alone. Then only I get hurt and no one else.
But that gets back to therapy again, and we’ve already been there, haven’t we?
August 29, 2003