For days now I’ve been trying to put my new book to bed. It’s now the conversion for Amazon formats posing the problem and I’ll have to deal with more kerfuffling on it until nightfall — except work and real life have to be in the way first.
I find, sometimes, that the most worthwhile ventures are the most difficult ones to finish off. Little conundrums keep coming up, as if to poke you and prod you and ask “How badly do you really want it? Huh? Bad?”
A friend recently filed for divorce and her papers came back from court with an “error” that prevented processing — 6 months after she filed. My thoughts then were that life was giving her the opportunity to say “Yes, this divorce is REALLY what I need,” whereas six months ago she was probably pleased to file but somewhere deep down inside was hesitating.
Fraught with delays, I find myself with the same kind of second thoughts. I’m more confident in my book now, more agitated about it finding an audience, and more ready than ever to take the next step and begin another one anew.
That certainty and determination can escape us for a while, but when teased with interference from external forces, we get truly motivated and confident about it being what we want.
So that much I know, and for that reason I’m trying to take deep breaths and accept that this is all part of what just needs to go down before I can rise up and face something new.
Weirdly, in the end these delays may offer me another advantage. After all, when’s the last big-bad-news week you’ve seen on this scale? It only happens once or twice a year that a week seems to tumble all over itself with bad news. Robin Williams is dead, Ferguson is inflaming, and people seem collectively distracted, hurting, and angry.
It’s a sad, sorrowful week and the focus deserves to be on these matters, not on little me and my book. I’d feel like an asshole marketing myself in the midst of all that’s going on in the world right now, so if this buys me a few days before the big new release, then so be it. I know I’d rather pay my respects to the dead and distraught this week.
I’ve been avoiding the topic of Robin Williams because I really don’t want to consciously “go there” much, but I guess that’s the point of the mental health discussions that have ensued.
I think sometimes about being an introvert, and as much as I love honouring that side of myself, I know it often is as unhealthy as it is healthy. That’s the price of it. Every passing year I tell myself I’ll find a truer balance between being alone and being social, but I still default to my party-of-one mode that feels most comfortably.
Then I hear about someone like Robin Williams and I wonder how much healthier his soul would’ve been had he just been able to take more time alone — because how much time alone can a world-famous family man have?
Today we’re learning he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and it all makes a little more sense to me, why he’s gone now. I imagine there are fewer things in the world that make you do battle with yourself more aggressively than Bipolar Disorder and Parkinson’s, and now he was to be dealing with both. I can imagine the desolation and worry that would come from such an ominous double-dose of mental affliction. I can understand why there might be a night or a morning when it would be all too easy to say “I give up.”
The day after his death, I was scrolling through Facebook and someone posted an image that said “Share this if you would stay up all night to talk someone out of suicide.”
And I didn’t share it. Not because I wouldn’t stay up all night for a friend who needed it, but because I understand suicide in a way that is not readily understood by most people. Having been in the position where I thought nothing could ever improve and that I could never care about life again, I get that feeling.
The difference is, I was only 32 and it’s far, far too young an age to just give up. Eight years later, I’ve significantly increased my income, increased my satisfaction with life, moved to a new city, and have a book about to be sold on Amazon. I’ve really turned things around, and would I have known then what would be here today, it would’ve made it easier to believe the page could turn.
But for someone 63, had lived an incredible life, wasn’t just depressed but bipolar and felt constantly out of control, who then got a diagnosis of Parkinson’s… Gosh, all I could say would be “I understand and hope you stick around to fight things for a while… but… I understand.”
Suicide is sometimes not “killing yourself” but instead opting into euthanasia. If you support euthanasia for ALS or something, then you should also understand suicide as a reaction to long-term despondency and depression. They’re both about ending a life consumed with pain.
And they’re both terribly tragic, but they’re both harder on the person left behind. It’s not about “giving up the fight,” it’s about choosing when to end a fight that’s not going to have a winner.
In the end, I’m thankful we had Robin Williams’ genius in the world. He was a voice of a generation, and I feel like this Time article was exactly bang-on.
But when the most unique voice of his age, the best physical comedian alive, and one of the biggest hearts in the world feels like it’s all over… well, it’s his show, his curtains.
I hope his legacy looms large. I hope we have learned more about ourselves. I hope we all share a bit more, laugh a little harder, and love a little longer. Those were lessons he exemplified.