In a way i am grateful for this outlet, for a place to scream into the void, for an opportunity to vent and rant and work the strange thoughts that rumble around my head, a place to write it all down, take a deep breath, and then get on with the day. The lounge, as much as i like to joke as it being an experiment in futility, is also one of the activities i enjoy the most... it's part diary, part memoir, part ramblings of a sentient imbecile... and in all it's ridiculous non-sense, in a world where in most circles no value is placed on the common man sitting down and creating something not for monetary gain but because he (i) has to, a compulsion? a purpose? whatever you want to call it, maybe making sense out of the human meat grinder of modernity, i thank those twinkling stars i gaze at each night that i have this place to wander into and do what i do, to settle and relieve the mind... in fact i'd posit to you dear reader, that you know me better than most people who actually know me do... as the BW would tell you i'm hard case and the fact is i keep most things close to the vest, as i've gained a bit of knowledge over these last 52 years i understand now what to share and what to keep hidden when dealing with the denizens of suburbia... but here at the lounge the veil is lifted and the truth (whatever that may be) spills out in little black blinking letters...
Yesterday afternoon i found out a guy i know had taken his own life and it struck me how hard it hit. As i've said before i'm a very hard shell with a very soft center, i understand how much things affect me. It's not like this guy was my best friend, he was just a guy i knew because i coached his son, a great kid, one of my favorite kids i've coached. His father was one of my biggest fans when it came to my coaching. He always got a kick out of my antics and had my back when opposing organizations came after me or my team with nonsense. He was a successful lawyer with a beautiful wife and five kids. On Monday he killed himself... and in my head i keep rolling it around and it confuses and confounds and i think of his son and his four other kids and can't fucking fathom how they must feel at the moment.
Suicide, mental illness, addiction, they are all difficult things to grapple with. I won't pretend to understand suicide though i've read some thought-provoking articles on the matter which have shed light on what may drive people to do it. In a way it is the ultimate and final fuck you to a life and society and culture... yes it's much more complicated than that and it is also a horribly selfish act and while i've never considered it a viable option (the void will come soon enough and i'm quite fond of bouncing along my merry way until i get there) i've thought long and hard about the reasons people do it... how someone with five kids could do it?
The BW has an undergrad degree in Psychology and when we first heard the news she looked up his obit and then said to me, "i wonder if he may have committed suicide." It was an interesting observation which she gleaned by what was written. There was no mention of loving father and husband, just a brief and very cold description of his education and who he left behind. How he was a partner in a law firm and married into a very prominent and powerful family in political and legal world of this city. One the outside everything looked great, his wife could be a model, his kids were all good kids, yet out here in suburbia things are never really as they seem. I used to see him at the pool and we'd talk, bump into him at basketball games and what not, he was always a super nice guy and it was always a pleasure to talk to him, we'd discuss our respective older sons who both played different sports now and i think he appreciated the fact i wanted to know how my former player was doing. But things are not as they seem sometimes.
I can't claim to understand depression on a personal level because i've never experienced it, the usual melancholy? well yes, i did grow up listening to The Smiths, but clinical dark, debilitating depression? no. I've been around people who've had it but i can't sit here and honestly profess to know what it feels like. Addiction? That is something i'm much more familiar with as i've more than flirted with that on a few occasions with various substances and somehow have managed to come out the other side while not ending up in rehab or dead. This man here it turns out had been sober for over a decade when for whatever reason he fell off the wagon. It then turns out that at one point he had moved out, whether that was because of his drinking or what precipitated it i don't know but what i do know is that once again there is this culture in America where the image is more important than the reality. Out here in the lily white suburbs the word divorce still seems to carry this scandalous connotation though half of all marriages end in it and half the people here are remarried. Does it make sense? no... and seeing as i live in one of those more affluent suburbs it seems the more affluent you are the more pressure there is to be "perfect".
The fact is that here in the land of milk and honey middle aged men (lucky for me i still think i'm 18) are more likely to die by suicide than any other age group. It's one of the leading causes of death. Part of this comes from what i believe is the American male mindset of success pushed on men by the culture, by outdated stereotypes of what it is to be a "man" in this country. Fact is we are a culture where we are defined by what we do, it's something i think about a lot because i don't actually do anything and i'm all the happier for it. In the great middle management purge of the early 90s i worried about my father, men being kicked out the door by their corporations were suddenly devoid of any purpose or meaning because their purpose and meaning were defined almost solely on their job, their standing, their earning. It makes one glad to be a bum, at best my "career" could be defined as a factotum, a drifter from warehouse grunt, to service lackey, to modern day serf. I'm not all that concerned with what i do because in the end while what i really like doing is of no monetary value in a culture that places none on creating and thinking and pondering... unless of course it's to somehow generate a revenue stream. Fuck that. I do what i do in the margins and hustle in between to get by.
When i think about this situation, speculation really, what i see is a guy who felt like his life was falling apart, the facade crumbling, a troubled marriage most likely, an old demon popping up and enticing him back, the pressure to keep up appearances in a place that places way too much value on such things. In the end it drove him to something hard to fathom, to leave five kids asking why? to leave a lot of people asking why?
And so as i sat alone thinking about this i tunred on the old telly, it just so happened the cable news was on, or what the denizens of Faux News call the radical left media, they were talking to a man whose child, a kid he was guardian of, was one of the victims of the Uvalde shooting. I sat there with tears in my eyes listening to this man talk about his son and i couldn't fathom the pain and hurt he was going through, watching him barely hold it together, listening to him talk about demanding answers from the shitbag named Abbott and combined with the previous news i thought about how dark and horrible we humans can make this world. Once again i sat and asked myself why? Why would someone leave five kids behind? why would someone feel the need to gun down children in classrooms? why are humans so fucked up? Yes i knew there were quantifiable things, mental illness and a culture still coming to grips with it and understanding it's a real illness and should be treated as such, not stigmatized and whispered about, the access to fucking firearms which i've never understood, a violent culture obsessed with this "right" which by the letter states "for the purpose of a well regulated militia". A "right" which has led gun deaths to become the leading cause of death among young people. The young gunned down and the men offing themselves... what was that about American exceptionalism?
I sat there thinking... the world can crush you if you let it so it is good to remember there is always light, even in the darkest of places, the yin and yang, the way of the Tao... and so amidst all this i began thinking... about the glimmering stars on cold and bright night, about the the laughter of my sons, about the purring of my cat as he sat in my lap and slept, about the hymns i hear each day as the wind winds its way through the leaves, about the sound of the waves crashing upon the shore, a stream flowing over rocks... and how it is up to each of us to navigate this temporary state called living to the best of our ability in the face of the darkness that creeps in... as Robert Nesta Marley once said, my heart can be as hard as stone or as soft as water, wise words when it comes to navigating this world but in the end we need to help each other, to show each other love instead of all this animosity and hate, to understand that we're all one and that this one is also just a miniscule part of a greater whole... but what am i? just a guy in a chair petting a cat and trying to make sense of the nonsense...