At my soon to be 64 years, I am well aware that I will run out of life before I run out of living. I do not know when that will happen, but I do know that it will likely be before I am ready. Unlike someone who I have known for many years, who I just heard recently took his own life. I have not seen this person for many years, and he was not a friend, but a professional connection. I do not know what took him to that place of no return, but I do believe when someone commits suicide, they have reached the end of what they are able to take. They have lost hope that their situation, circumstances, their very life, can improve.
I have been near that point only once in my life. I remember it clearly. I had no plan, and I don’t think I seriously considered taking the action. (I believe some reading this have also had suicide thoughts, and some may have acted upon those.) What I do remember very vividly was the feeling of utter hopelessness and grief. Thankfully at that point I reached deep down and prayed, and my prayer was answered. The circumstances that put me there did not change quickly, but my desire for self preservation became stronger than what I was feeling. I made the decision to never get to that point again, and I haven’t. I am not taking full credit for this. I am very grateful that my life has been rich and full, and not in monetary ways, but in relationships, and experiences. But I did make a decision to not let anyone or anything put me in such a dark place ever again.
I do not know the circumstances that were involved in this man’s life that resulted in his death, other than I was told that his decision to end his life came as a shock to those closest to him. Someone close to him said all that is known by his friends is that he was under a lot of stress. It has been said that stress kills. The context of this saying is usually that stress can create major physical changes in our body, resulting in conditions such as heart attacks and death. In this case, it seems that whatever stress was occurring was more than he could take any longer. How very tragic. I am so saddened by this, sad first of all for him. And sad for his family and loved ones, who will live with this tragedy forever.
It seems that suicide is a decision more people are making lately. We need to talk about it. The threat of suicide is real, and we need to recognize the signs, when there are signs. We need to be close enough to our family and friends to be able to help them through whatever situations result in them losing hope, or losing the desire to live. (And this is in no way implying family and friends of the man I have referenced missed the signs. It seems there weren’t any.)
I am so humbled by the glory of my life, and not that it is problem free by any means. But even though I am aging, I hope that I have many years of good health and life left. I feel responsible to do my best to live my life to the fullest. The challenge is figuring out what that is for me at this point in my life. I must focus on how to best live my passion, my purpose, now. I have been very clear about that in years past; not as much so lately. What I am most passionate about is clear. And I have more than one passion; family is one. But my purpose is something different. Purpose is more about who I am to be, more than what I am to do.
I am reminded of something Diane von Furstenberg said last year when I heard her speak at a conference. She was talking about the early days of her career, and said, “I did not know what I wanted to do, but I was very clear about who I wanted to be.”
Regardless of how long or well we live, we only have one life on this planet. It would seem that living our best life requires focus, and deciding who we are here to be.
When I sat down to write this week’s Blog post, I had a different plan than what is here. I only hope that this focus meets a need for at least one reader.