Why I Haven’t Killed Myself Yet (and You Probably Shouldn’t Kill Yourself Either)

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The Existential Question of Suicide

There’s a famous quote by Albert Camus where he says something like “If you haven’t killed yourself yet then you’re an existentialist”.

I think about that quote a lot.

Camus is also the guy who summed up the modern existential state by asking, “Should I have another cup of coffee or should I kill myself?”

It really helps put things in perspective: ultimately, if you’re here and you’re reading this right now then things have never got so bad that you’ve made the CHOICE to end it all.

That’s good news. Probably somebody out there likes having you around (and even if it feels like they don’t you’re probably just not looking hard enough or need to buy a dog or something).

Being a human being is kinda weird: Every morning we wake up and we keep making the choices to just keep going through the motions and ploughing on with our lives – even though we know they’re going to end anyway one day and that there’s nothing we can do about it (and maybe you could make an argument that a lot of what goes on in the world is a distraction from that inescapable reality).

This ceaseless, inexorable ‘ploughing on’ happens despite us constantly having to deal with problems and obstacles, having to deal with the dramas and derangements of other people, and having things creep up on us out of the blue every so often and knock us sideways or derail the train of our lives and whatever plans we might have had (“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face”, as Mike Tyson said).

There’s a deeper sense of despair in the world than any time since I remember in my long ass lifetime (40 years young now, wtf) but despite all the absurdity and clownish chaos of the extremities of political ideologies and all of the weirdness, drama, and bullshit that permeates the world (and the subtle and not-so-subtle threats to OBVLIVION), most of us just keep ploughing and plodding along, doing the same old things we’ve always done.

I think we’ve all had that thought pop into our heads at least once or twice in our lives – even if it hasn’t really been ‘serious’:

“Why don’t I kill myself?”

Sometimes it just creeps in there when you’re washing the dishes, driving down the Bingley bypass, or making love.

Life is fragile, after all – it would be so easy to do any of the romanticised suicide rituals that we’ve all heard about and to end it all with relative ‘ease’:

-Go to Paris and jump off the Eifel Tower.

-Overdose on some drug of choice.

-Take a toaster in the bath (and plug it in, of course).

-Get a razorblade and slit one’s wrists (everybody knows that you need to go ‘down’ and not ‘across’ for whatever reason).

-Steal a car or commit some other crime and get the police to chase and shoot you (depending on your country or the severity of your crime, of course).

The options for leaving this hellhole are only limited by your creativity (which is ironic in a way seeing as the world you might be trying to escape is trying to quash your creativity anyway).

So why do we stick around? Maybe there’s some ‘stuff’ to be learned here?

I can’t really speak for others but here’s why I haven’t killed myself yet:

I’m going to die anyway.

Maybe it’s laziness but I really don’t see the point in killing myself when I’m going to die one day anyway.

Maybe it’s because I’m an optimist but I know that anything could happen between now and whenever that happens to be (within the realm of possibility, of course).

That could include things that are ‘bad’ and so maybe things will get worse than they’ve ever been but ‘possiblity’ also means that things could get ‘good’ or even better as well so I might as well stick around and find out.

I suppose knowing that death is inevitably coming anyway gives me a kind of peace because it makes me more present (when I’m reflecting on it) but it also serves to remind me that THIS IS IT – as far as I know, this is the only life I’m ever going to live and so I might as well squeeze every drop of life I can get out of it.

I know that things won’t always be perfect but nor do I want – or even need – them to be.  Being ‘me’ is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and so I might as well accept it as it ‘is’ (whilst still trying to change what I can change and move towards my vision) and ‘enjoy’ the full spectrum of human emotions and experiences – misery, confusion, conflict; joy, exultation, love – all of these things are just part of the overall cocktail of life and make it what it is: a rich tapestry of colours and sensations that all come together in one hideously beautiful abstract painting that kinda makes sense if you look at it in the right way.

There’s loads more to do.

The thing about life is that there’s always more to ‘do’.  Some might say that this is actually one of the ‘bad’ things about life – the fact that we constantly have to be bumbling around like blue-arsed flies ‘doing’ things instead of ‘being’ them.

It’s like the Myth of Sisyphus (popularised and given context by Albert Camus again) – pushing the rock up the mountain only for it to roll back down again and for him to have to repeat the process and struggle up-and-down for eternity.

I was speaking to somebody recently who was struggling with the endless ‘doing’ and struggle of the human condition:

They were saying that every time you think you’ve got to the top of the mountain you end up realising that it’s not the actual peak – it’s just a ridge.

And when you get to the top of the next ridge you realise you’re still not at the top (and on and on it goes).

I don’t mind ‘doing’ things as long as my  ‘being’ is injected into that ‘doing’ – for example, by aligning it with my REAL VALUES (not the values that the world has tried to ingrain or condition me with).

In my own life, I’ve really found that by getting to the top of one ‘ridge’ I might not have made it all the way to the ‘top’ – to some perfect state of absolute completion and power – but I’ve still grown a lot more real (i.e. whole and integrated in myself, the world, and reality) and have got a better VIEW of life and what it all means along the way.

I think all this ‘doing’ is only really a problem if you either don’t KNOW what you’re doing (because you’ve been told by others) or because you’re FORCING yourself to do things that are taking you away from yourself rather than doing anything actually real or true to you (and that’s when you’re most likely to end up being like Sisyphus and doing something ABSURD).

I dunno, I think it comes down to our expectations. If we expect life to be life then it’s a lot ‘easier’ – or at least more SIMPLE – and so we’re less likely to kill ourselves. I think if my expectations were different maybe I would’ve been disappointed by now and jumped off the Eifel Tower or taken my plugged-in toaster in the bath.

Personally, I like the journey but I’ve learned to trust the process and it’s taken me out of my head and into life a little more… I think if we resist life then we resist life (if you know what I mean). I’m trying to be open.

The other thing about all these things to ‘do’ that’s stopped me from killing myself is that doing brings a lot of amazing MOMENTS and EXPERIENCES that allow me to dangle a future over my head like a golden suicide-prevention carrot that keeps me plodding along.

Like we said, despite all this empty ‘doing’ in the world (going to work in the wage cage, filling in spread sheets, queuing in the supermarket whilst the self-checkouts blurt out error messages), there’s a lot of BEING that creeps into our lives that makes it worth living.

This ‘being’ doesn’t necessarily have to come from anything grandiose or extravagant – it can just be small things that turn all your senses on and remind you exactly who the fuck you are:

-Sitting in a garden with your eyes closed and the sun on your face.

-Kicking those autumn leaves or watching your breath condensate as you go for a walk.

-Seeing a full moon from on top of a hill.

-Listening to the waves wash up against the shore or the ripples and whirls forming and fading away in a river.

Maybe these are clichés but those moments are FREE and – more importantly – they’re REAL.

I haven’t killed myself yet because of all the moments like that I’ve had previously – or that I’m having now as I write this and look outside every so often at a tree blowing in the wind – but also because of all the moments that I know will come.

I know that they will come because life is nothing but a series of moments that we try and thread together with the narratives and stories that we tell ourselves… None of those stories will last, though, but if the moments are real they’ll last forever (because those moments are about being connected to the whole and so they’re real and what’s real is always real).

That doesn’t mean that I’m going to be ‘passive’ about it and just let these moments happen to me (that’s ego) – I’ve learned now that the way to SPEED UP and experience life more fully is to create a vision for life and to go out there and LIVE THE VISION.

Obviously, there are no guarantees in life and I could get run over by a bus tomorrow and taste oblivion but if I don’t then there are things I’m pretty much certain I’ll do one day (unless something goes seriously wrong and then I can either learn to accept it or then kill myself lol).

I think without the vision it’s much harder to find reasons to keep living – the vision doesn’t need to be big but it needs to be something and it needs to be real:

I haven’t killed myself because I want to grow my business and help more people not kill themselves too.

I haven’t killed myself because I want to go to Norway and climb some mountains.

I haven’t killed myself because I want to go to Italy again.

I haven’t killed myself because I want to hold ‘The One’ in my  arms and know that life is for the living (yeah, I know that it’s never the ‘One’ and just one of the ones but it’s still an amazing part of the human experience – just like with all the ones that were already the one).

You get the picture.

I suppose it doesn’t even really matter that much if the vision even materialises in reality or not (though if you ACT on it there’s no reason why it won’t –  though maybe not exactly as you envisioned given the way the reality waves work and the inevitable gap between expectation and result).

No, what matters is HAVING the vision.  I think as long as there’s some kind of picture in your heart then you’ll probably be okay. If you don’t have one just CHOOSE one – it’s not that complicated (though we like complications, especially when we’re already feeling down or depressed because they give us reasons not to move and grow through the FEELINGS that are holding us back and the IDEAS we created and attached to as a response to them).

Maybe that oversimplifies things or sounds delusional – I think that’s only  the case if you choose something and then you don’t ACT on it.  Without the action you’re deluding yourself; if you choose and then act then you’re really living (so why would you kill yourself?).

There’s loads more real human beings to meet.

Other people can be annoying (an understatement) and it can be easy to become disheartened by some of the time-wasting and drama that they can suck us into if we’re not careful.

Even worse than that, you see the news and it’s easy to lose faith in ‘people’ as a whole: they’re starting wars, stabbing each other, chopping each other’s genitalia off, arguing about politics, and generally causing all kinds of unwholesome havoc wherever they go.

Despite this being the case, this is just ‘people’ in general – it’s not humanity (which involves a little wholeness or soul).

People are just ‘ideas’.

People are just acting out their self-images and the points of view of their ego and causing all kinds of bother because of it.

One reason I haven’t killed myself yet is that, despite all this HORROR, there are still REAL HUMAN BEINGS out there that you can create memories and moments with and more importantly LAUGH YOUR ASS OFF with.

Even in the worst-case scenario – those periods in life when you feel totally disconnected or isolated from ‘The World’ at large – it doesn’t change the fact that there are nearly 8billion (or whatever it is today) people on the planet and that some of them out there are gonna be on your wavelength.

Just because you feel alone doesn’t mean that you are alone – even if you do have to do a little work of not being PASSIVE and actually reaching out or reconnecting to people.

I have family and friends that I think would miss me if I killed myself – actually, I’m pretty sure that some of them definitely would (even some of the ones I might not have spoken to in a while).

It sounds kinda funny when I put it like this but one reason I haven’t killed myself is because I don’t wanna DEPRIVE people of my presence. I’m saying that slightly tongue-in-cheek but it’s true: I’m funny and I have good things to say and I can cheer people up in general or make their lives better with the ‘value’ (overused word) I bring to the relationship.

Why deprive people of that? With great power comes great responsibility and – in some relationships, not necessarily always – I’m awesome.

Of course, on some levels, it’s not just about ‘being awesome’ – some people love you regardless of how awesome you are. In my case I think my Mum and my Gran actually love me unconditionally – despite whatever flaws I have or the stupid things I’ve done and been through that have made them worry in life.

I think if I killed myself now it would just cause them too much pain and even though I wouldn’t be around to feel guilty about it I don’t want to be responsible for that.  I suppose this is why a lot of people don’t kill themselves – because they don’t wanna hurt the people they love and that love them. Life is life but we’re all in it together – there’s some comfort in that whether you want it or not.

The way I look at people these days is that every single one of them is an EXPERIENCE (or at least a couple of moments here and there).

Some of them are REAL experiences and some of them are UNREAL experiences – if you’ve read my ‘stuff’ before then you’ll be able to figure out the distinction between the two but the short version is that the real ones bring a spiral of energy as they take you deeper into wholeness and the unreal ones just block things with their own bullshit and there’s no real connection.

One reason I haven’t killed myself yet is because there’s already some real ones in my life that bring the ENERGY – I suppose you could say that energy is life-enhancing and so as long as it’s there and it’s taking me where I need to go then I suppose there’s something to live for.

Yeah, there’s the unreal ‘stuff’ and relationships too but that’s all part of the human experience like we said earlier – you can’t have the sweet without the sour. All of these things just make being ‘human’ human and as long as we have that basic panoply of experiences and the real stuff keeps coming or is around the corner then you might as well keep going.

Human beings are ‘tribal’ creatures (at least that’s what they tell us) and so people (or humans) need people (or humans).

Yeah, you can do it on your own if you really want – it’s not impossible.  Overall, though, we need each other to be mirrors of each other and it’s just a lot more ‘fun’ to go out there and share the path with people and share battle stories and get scars together.

There have been times in my life when I’ve been alienated – even from the real ones – because of how things have just worked out or because I’ve had a period of downtime because of illness or whatever else. The real ones are always real, though – you can reach out or they will and then you’ll pick up where you left off like time, space, and causality aren’t even things we have to deal with. Real life is amazing like that.

I guess what I’m saying is that I haven’t killed myself yet because it’s always there – even if sometimes you have to reach out for it. I suppose when I was younger I might’ve fallen into the unhealthy pattern that if it’s real then you don’t need to reach out (and, tbh, in many cases you don’t) – people just get caught up their own lives, though, and sometimes reaching out is just a reminder of what’s real, not a reflection on who you are (that’s ego).

What about those cases where there is nobody to reach out to? What happens when I’m old, for example, and all my friends have dropped dead? Or what if I’m simply a different person now – because I was once unreal and now I’m not – and so I’ve distanced myself from the people and things that once seemed real in order to be true to myself?

Maybe that’s a tad dramatic but you know what I mean – not everybody is connected to people even though everything is connected.

In cases like that I always think that “It’s better alone than in bad company” (or unreal company – even worse).

If I ended up like that then I still wouldn’t kill myself – because there’s always the chance that there’s another real one out there somewhere or – if not – then there’s still gonna be those moments that we talked about up above.

There’s always something or the promise of something REAL and I suppose – at the end of the end of the day – that’s all it really takes to make a life: a taste here and there, the lingering sensations, and then the promise of something more.

You never know what’s around the corner but if you reach around you’ll probably find something and if you don’t you can still be real. Something like that, anyway.

It’s why I’m still here.

 

 


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