Thursday, 8 August 2013

Suicide: The Cure

Bunter Teller (27 Stücke) A year ago this month the suicide of a former student prompted me to get real on polite society's fancy backside and name the actual perpetrators of suicide, right out loud. I ended with a direct request that they knock it the hell off.

You'd think that would do it, but here we are a whole year later and my demands still haven't been met. So while we're waiting, here's a tip on how not to be their victim.

As I pointed out then, suicide happens because the culture refuses to admit that life sucks. This leads people to desperate measures to escape the deep loneliness of being the only hurting person in the world. How did they reach this improbable conclusion? Because they were lied to about the pie.

Stay with me, here. All of your life, The Consensus (aka society, "the world", people, the public, The Man, The Matrix, "they", the culture…) has force-fed you a definition of happiness based on others' acceptance: equal parts companionship (for which you must beg peers) and material success (for which you must beg The Man: teachers, the public, employers, etc.) Let's be clear: you didn't come up with this definition, and (o thunderous coincidence) you can't get either of its two requirements by yourself. The approval you need to buy Consensus-brand happiness is only sold by The Consensus.

If this sounds like some kind of dystopian sci-fi hell, welcome home. I call it "the pie". Because I love lemon pie. There isn't much I wouldn't do for lemon pie. Make that: there didn't used to be much I wouldn’t do. Dig:

The universe is a giant dessert table. It's got every dessert ever invented, plus millions more not yet invented. But you've been told that the onliest dessert worth having is the lemon pie.

Yeah. That's likely.

And – what are the odds?? – lemon pie is also the only one you have to ask for. You could grab literally tonnes of others, FOB. But Consensus says the lemon pie is "the only true happiness". And you literally have to sell your soul (to The Consensus) to get it. What’s more, The Consensus gets to decide if it even wants your soul. Which it often doesn't. In which case you're screwed. For life.

Unless you take the trifle. Or the cobbler. Or the fruit plate. Or the beavertail. Or any one of a billion other happinesses The Consensus insists aren't even there. Every one shouting "Bite me!" (Get it?)

Enough about the pie. Listen. Some people never find a wife or husband. (And lots more do and wish they didn't.) Some never make a comfortable living. Many never attain social acclaim, whether by choice or default. Literally millions of us never get lemon pie… I mean, "success". And we're doing just fine, out here with the dogs. It's not that Consensus-endorsed happiness isn't good. It's just not better than the others.

I have close friends in (apparently) ideal marriages and/or careers. They have problems, challenges, compromises, regrets. Things are missing from their lives. I have others that have neither love nor status. Some wanted them dearly, once. (I sure did.) But it didn't happen, so we cultivated other happinesses. And we're as fulfilled as the pie-eaters.

In sum:

1. WE suffer because we don't have their happiness.
2. THEY suffer because they don't have ours.

––––> Balance: there is no pie.

In adolescence, the contradiction between pompous promises and bedrock hypocrisy comes into stark relief. As their souls come online, lots of young people find themselves at the wrong end of the table. They don't date well. God didn't make them mathematicians. They aren't reassured by conventional copouts. They like weird music, clothes, books, movies. They're too sensitive. Too visionary. Too intelligent. Too gay. And the suicide begins.

But here's the thing: you don't have to play. When I meditate (you knew it was coming; does this look like a fashion blog?) I clear my mind, shut up the critics– including the one I was trained to be – and walk right past the pie. No more starving navel-deep in food. When you cultivate inner silence, truth finally gets a word in edgewise. Suddenly sunsets and rivers and flowers and wildlife are blindingly awesome; a provocative book, a road trip, a cup of really fine chai; the drum of the surf, the om of a city; a song, a joke, the utter indifference of Time itself. That's the real world. And it's infinitely bigger than people.

They tell you not to settle for that. I just go ahead and settle for it. And you'd be astonished how unhappy it doesn't make me. I'm still sad sometimes; lonely, especially. I have regrets and misgivings, fear and anger, roads I wish I'd taken, roads I wish I'd never seen. In short, I'm living exactly the same life as the pie-eaters. It's just that now, it's devoted to ending suffering. (Trade secret: start with your own.)

Word up to all my world-weary brothers and sisters. No time for small minds. Eyes on the prize.

(But why am I so hungry all of a sudden?)

(Photo of Bunter Teller (27 Stücke) im Tortenkarton courtesy of Hedwig Storch and Wikimedia Commons.)
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