I’m that Tired Guy, you know the one generally caught somewhere between reality and madness, typically between the hours of 6 AM and 10 PM (that’s Eastern Standard for our European friends…or 10210 Mongo Time for Hawkmen and Arborians).
Yeah, I like sci fi. Sue me.
As usual, I’m contemplative and restless. Oh and tired, always tired.
With some soothing Floyd in my background, I decided to hop on and craft something.
No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away
From the coldness inside
Just a world that we all must share
It’s not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that there’ll be
No more turning away?
Call this one a dedication to my most favorite red head from Ashland. Methinks she needs a pick-me-up. And somehow I think reading my blathering might actually help.
So away I go…
There was a time about ten years ago when I contemplated the unthinkable. It was more a view on the edge of the abyss than an actual attempt to end it all. My wife (first one folks, she was the practice dummy…no wait, that was me…) had just left me, told me our marriage was a lie, she was no longer in love with me, hadn’t felt that for years and it was time to move on. My life was spiraling away, I had lost my job (I worked for her parents…they told me I had to leave…go figure?), I lived a bajillion miles away from the only family I had and the world was pretty damn bleak.
It was a Friday. I remember it well. I had decided I wanted to watch a sci fi show called Farscape, and my stomach kept complaining if I didn’t fill it up there would be hell to pay later. And who watches new shows running on empty anyway right?
Naturally I thought about chinese food. It doesn’t cure the common cold, it wasn’t a Stephen Hawkins’ solution to some esoteric scientific something-or-other, but it was the remedy I sought nonetheless.
Besides, who in their right mind passes up tasty boneless spareribs and fried rice?
Yeah, all you vegetables and health food nuts go stand in some other line. I’m talking clogging-the-arteries tastiness!
Anyway, there I am driving along Davis Road in my reliable blue Toyota Corolla when all the loneliness, despair, anguish, fear, disgust, embarrassment and downright shame hit me.
I had failed.
The dream was over.
No wife. No possibility of children. No career. No prospects.
It may sound absurd…but don’t be naive
Even Heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed…but won’t you concede
Even Heroes have the right to dream
It’s not easy to be me
And so I stood upon the edge of the abyss and stared down that horrible black hole with only darkness glaring sullenly back at me. Driving, heedless of the speed limit, of the curves and waves in the road, the roar of the car’s engine muffled as if I stood dozens of feet away, lost and fading.
The end really was near.
I remember in a very clinical, detached way that this was probably what depressed people felt like as if boxed in and suffocating from an invisible weight crushing their will to live. I remember distinctly that I could make that choice, easily, effortlessly, calmly, logically.
No more problems.
No more tears.
No more heartache.
No more me.
If I ran away, I’d never have the strength
To go very far
How could they hear the beating of my heart
Will it grow cold
The secret that I hide, will I grow old
How would they hear
When would they learn
How would they know
And then I blinked.
It’s a funny thing really. Robert Frost talks about the path less traveled, but I think most people forget which road they’re even on most days anyway. We’re so caught up in what we have to do, how much money we make, the debt we’re in, the pointless toys we amass, the loves we’ve lost, the decisions we should have made. Friends lost and friends found, and always the memories to help assuage some of the agony…at least for a little while.
But when faced with a real decision, how quickly we either lose or gain clarity. In that one instance, the paths present themselves and as rational beings we can make the most irrational of decisions for all the right reasons that went dead wrong. That which does not kill us makes us stronger, forged in the flames of failure or success, for better or worse.
Somewhere deep inside of me, buried beneath the pain and tears I found my core, that indelible part of me whose essence was wrapped up in the memories of a loving mother, a father’s advice, a brother’s quiet steadfastness, the warm smile of a close friend, the camaraderie of laughter, and ultimately, the soulful gaze of moist brown eyes of my greatest companion, a black labrador retriever of such surpassing compassion that I will forever be in her debt.
My dog Jasmine. She loved me, without reservation or hesitation and asked nothing in return. You cannot truly appreciate unconditional love unless you have a dog (or a cat I suppose, but my experience is limited there). And the surprisingly simple depth and breadth of that power can be so all encompassing, so invigorating, that quite honestly for me it was the splash of cold water I needed.
And so I grappled with my demons, hurled them down and walked away from the edge.
The first step is always the hardest.
Thankfully I realized then I didn’t have to do it alone.
At the end of the day, we all have the inner strength to overcome any obstacles. To those of you feeling sad and downtrodden, hear me out:
You are NOT alone.
Coming up close
Everything sounds like
Welcome home, come home
And oh by the way
Don’t you know that I could make
A dream that’s barely half awake come true
I wanted to say
But anything I could have said
I felt somehow that you already knew
Cherish your friends and family. Feel again the good times by listening to the songs that inspired you. Read those passages from favorite books whose message still resonates with you to this day. Gaze upon old photos of images bright with color and context. Dig deep inside yourself and find that kernel of optimism, the core that makes YOU you.
And remember at the end of the day before you turn out all the lights even the smallest of friends can have the greatest impact of all.