Day 93: Reflections
“Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee?” ~ Albert Camus
I knew this photo I took last week had a story to tell. I didn’t realise it would be story about suicide. I am glad that it was Albert Camus that posited the choice between suicide and coffee. I don’t think I would have been brave enough to articulate my experience of dipping into suicidal waters in this way if he had not gone before me. Suicide is not a subject to be touched lightly and I apologise in advance if anything I have to say appears frivolous or callous.
I assured myself that any contemplation of suicide on my part was dramatic posturing even though all the drama occurs in the privacy of my own head. Over the years I have got used to the comings and goings of my inner drama queen; cue enter stage with a flounce and a huff ‘WHAT is the point?‘ wail, ‘What have I got to live for?‘ gnash, ‘Look at all my failures’ followed by the a list of the ‘specials’ of the day and more wailing and more gnashing. This little scene may be a matter of minutes or hours with variations on a theme. On occasion it is a long rehearsal spanning days or weeks. It is not a great place to be and there was a time when I believed this character that I was playing and wondered if I should be honourable and follow through.
I managed to ride the cycle without mishap until a raw conversation with Laura Kenyon*, an insightful homeopath, about 18 years ago now. I knew I had to talk to someone about these feelings. She gave me a perspective that has served me to take the charge out of this recurring drama. She suggested to me that I was in reaction to the impact of circumstances beyond my control, that when life is not playing out as I would like there is a part of me that looks for something to take control of and comes up with this whole notion of taking myself out of life. In this space I assume that my true value and right to be in life is predicated by external validation. I observed the truth of what she said then and I see it each time this drama comes up. I do not suggest that this is the same for everyone.
When I ask myself is this what I want to believe my answer is no. I refuse to accept it as true. Now this drama is a hook that allows me to acknowledge that life is not playing out in a way that gives me external acknowledgement or love. Yes it feels real and if I am unwell or exhausted it is even more intense; I prefer to stand well back on the tube platform and avoid heights and knives. I can see that suicide could just be a choice away – as easy as will I kill myself or have a cup of coffee? – but the choice I make is to wake up and smell the coffee; to choose my heart and what I love in that moment, in the simplest of things. I know now that there will be other times when I will face that question and have to make a choice. I don’t intend to take myself out but if I do please no angst for me , how could anyone expect to be there for me in that slow motion minute of that choice.
I have no idea whether my experience is true for everyone but in the past week I have had two conversations about suicide. One with a friend who told me how they struggled with suicidal thoughts after a litany of financial failings and then suddenly realised that these thoughts were a control strategy. With that realisation he was able to turn his life around, to stop his striving for financial success, to be and embrace the love he already had in his life. Things are not easy but he loves his life, the work that he does and the freedom from working like a hound from hell. The second conversation was with a friend whose partner committed suicide a few years ago. It was a conversation we had never had, one in which my personal insights seem trite and irrelevant. All I could do was listen.
I want to emphasis that what I share here is but a shard in the big picture. I think there are as many different relationships with life and death as there are unique human beings. All I write about here is what I am perceiving from the bunker of my reality.
100 Days of Awe is a playful project I set up to bring my attention to awe in my daily life. I see awe as wonder, a mixture of amazement and respect. I expect the experience of awe to be about perception shifting awareness and that demands a reframing of some sort. I am excited to see what will awe me on this journey.
Anne K. Scott is an imagination technologist, her work to teach, facilitate and deliver innovation for individuals and business. She is the creator of FindYourMojo a FREE iPHone productivity app. If you are interested in what intuitive coaching can do for you or your business please do contact me. I support clients all over the world.
*Laura practises at a number of clinics in London and the South East.