I am not going to protect this blog, though my blogs are usually for the purview of only those people whom have joined Warriors4Justice. Today, I leave this blog open and accessible in the hope it may reach that one person whom God knows needs this message so that he or she may find their way off the ledge. Amen.
A really tragic event occurred at the most historic and prestigious private, college preparatory school in the South, Montgomery Bell Academy, which is an all-boys school. A young sophomore tragically ended his own life. I was informed of this by a friend of mine whose own son attends MBA and is on the baseball team and a Junior. This friend thought to reach out to me, as he doesn’t know my brother, but he does know I have two nephews at the Academy both of whom were on “The Crew” with the recently deceased. I thought I would offer a few thoughts. Novelist, David Foster Wallace once likened the “psychotically depressed” to someone trapped in the high-rise of a burning building. According to Wallace, “…the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not the desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames.” Wallace goes on to relate that “[y]ou’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”
I have experienced a great deal of terror, self-inflicted or not. I would tell Wallace I have felt the flames and have, at least, wondered if the terrors in front of me were more or less terrifying than death. I have lost my career, been subjected to national, public humiliation which impacted my wife, kids, siblings, parents, in truth, all my family in cruel and even unfair ways. I have felt shame and seen the mocking and reproachful looks from lifelong associates with whom I have had some measure of acquaintance as they scornfully looked down on me mentally recounting the many opportunities they believe I have squandered. I have lost every dollar I ever saved and the income stream which I developed over nearly 20 years of employing trial skills most would claim were somewhat skillful. I have lost my independence, my self-esteem, and in many ways the essence of what made a “man” peer back at me in my mirror. So, David Foster Wallace, who are we kidding? No one, and I mean no one, has stood much closer to the abyss while, simultaneously, feeling heat from flames creeping up behind them.
I won’t kill myself, and you shouldn’t either, no matter how many times I contemplate of which fear am I more afraid, falling or burning. Here’s why. I could remind you many denominations of Christianity teach it is a “mortal sin,” not to mean it is unforgiveable because I, personally, believe God, who loves us, never closes the door to our salvation regardless what sin we commit, but, nonetheless, it being considered a “mortal sin” still wouldn’t deter a secularist. I could tell you it is a cowardly way to go, as I have heard that often argued, but that doesn’t really help avowed cowards; and I am not sure that is always true. As Wallace sets forth, jumping from the ledge metaphorically requires some courage, I would think, as one does confront the fear of falling. I could tell you it destroys the people whom you leave behind but that has little impact on narcissists. So I am going to tell you the one thing 47 years of hills and valleys has taught me. You’re really never out of the game. When you are at your lowest, when you feel you can’t go on, you’re still just one move, one break, one blessing away from righting the ship and finding the shore. As long as the game continues, you’re still in it. So long as the fire hasn’t yet engulfed you, even though close, there is still a chance the water will reach you first. You truly haven’t lost, and the game isn’t over, till the horn sounds.
I have started a new career in Radio and you can hear The Long Version every week-day either over the air or on the internet. As my agent, Chris Keaton, has assured me, while Act I of my career may be over, that doesn’t mean there isn’t an Act II. As long as I have breath, as long as I have ability and talent, as long as I have opportunity to see the sun crest over the horizon every morning, I still have a chance baby, and the same is true of you! We owe it to each other to stick it out and ride the wave all the way to the shore. I’ll do if you will. Shhhhhh, the curtains going up…
Take it for what it is worth, because…
THAT’S THE LONG VERSION!