Before the long break, I mentioned that I didn’t feel much like living. This feeling still exists inside me, these days. And based on observation, experience, and expert opinion in the general interwebs, I am inclined to believe that it is better to talk about such a state than to pretend it isn’t happening.
One reason I say “pretend it isn’t happening,” because for me, it is difficult to imagine not contemplating death. I have heard that people exist who never seriously thought about death in their entire lives, and they’re 60 or 80, so they’ve had plenty of time. Meanwhile, I’ve thought about death since I was 4 or 5. I have heard that children under the age 7 or 8 tend to not know what death means (how do they test these things?) but that wasn’t the case with me.
Why did I think about death when I was 4 or 5? Well, I vividly remember crying about the potential deaths of fish in the ocean. The reason I cried was that, I simply had to wash my face and body, because I was (am!) a human. But what would happen to the fish in the ocean when the water flowed down the drain with all the hair that naturally fell from my scalp? Wouldn’t the poor fish choke to death? What kind of existence was I leading? Was this what it meant to be alive? To kill other creatures for my own comfort and survival? What was the point? Was this how I was gonna live until I die? Was living dying?
I imagine that it wasn’t much hair, because, as I said, I was 4 or 5, and how much hair loss can happen to a healthy child, naturally? Also, probably there was some kind of hair catcher, so the hair wasn’t literally flowing to the ocean. But Little Ithaka didn’t know those things; all she thought she knew was that the fish would choke to death due to her hair.
So she cried. I cried. This is one of my earliest memories. Now that I think about it, it’s curious that it is about death. And I still can’t imagine not thinking about death in one way or another while living.
What I have known for a long time is that the reason I will (probably) not kill myself is simply that it is too much of a hassle. It is such a hassle to the remaining people, not only the people who love you, but everyone. For example, if you jump into a river, you cause water pollution. If you hang yourself in a forest, you might cause a heart attack in an innocent hiker. If you throw yourself under the bus, literally, the poor bus driver will be traumatized for life. Even if you drug yourself in your own house, you will cause the home value to decrease and cause much creepy feeling in the neighbors. Also, someone will have to come collect you. Possibly, the people who live with you or near you will be investigated for a potential homicide case, until the police conclude that indeed, this was suicide. If you want to prevent all this hassle, you have to pay, and the resources you must put in aren’t insignificant: paperwork (hence time), financial costs, opportunity costs, etc.
And what I have more recently realized regarding my possible suicide is that, beyond all this logistical hassle, I don’t have the energy. As in, even if the world were to streamline suicide, I don’t think I would have the energy. Presently, I live from inertia. (It’s tricky to call it momentum.)
Suicide is not the easy way out. Those who do go through with it don’t do it because they are weak or passive. It is about the most active thing a human can do, suicide.
Somewhere in the interwebs, there are articles about species that can commit suicide and species that cannot—or at least, don’t have any recorded suicides, according to the humans. The ability to commit suicide is, actually & truly, an ability; not all species have this ability.
I’ve heard of dolphins committing suicide. Basically, species that can form notions about “how life should be” are the only ones that are able to commit suicide. Dolphins have this ability, humans have it, and some other species probably have it and we just don’t know about it.
Now, in some ways, it may be tragic to have the notion of “how life should be” when life cannot be that way. For example, for a dolphin trapped in an aquarium, life fucking sucks, okay? And life will not ever be the way the dolphin wants/needs it to be. I don’t blame it for killing itself. It’s no way for a dolphin to live. And at least a few dolphins agreed. That’s why they killed themselves.
Luckily or not luckily, humans have a far greater variety in what constitutes a “life worth living.” Even so, when a person does not see any future in which they can live one of the 100,000 lives worth living, can I blame them for killing themselves?
I’ve read somewhere, in passing, that suicide (and depression and other related mind states) are the result of the inability to imagine a different reality from the one that is currently causing suffering. That sounds about right.
Why am I talking about this…
I don’t know. I didn’t have an end goal in mind, when I started this post.
What I do know is that I haven’t run out of imagination yet, not fully. I don’t know which parallel reality(realities) would count as “a life worth living,” but I remember the vertex and it is still the same as before. This, too, is possibly merely the result of inertia, but I’ll take it. Not only that, I have the ability to imagine that I will one day be better at imagining. That is the main reason I am still alive. I guess I am blessed with the inertia for imagination.
Also noteworthy: I have grown up to be a person who enjoys raw fish. And this raw fish eating started when I was 7 or so. Clearly, I got over my infinite compassion for the fish in the ocean who might choke on my hair. I got over how my existence is tied to their death, and that my death might mean their existence, and that death and existence are intertwined, and so on and so forth. I got over all that, and I learned to eat them raw.
So, maybe something similar will happen? Not in that I will eat other humans or myself, but in that I might get over the resistance against life being death. Life has always been death. I know this at the superficial level.
So, well, maybe what needs to happen isn’t something similar as the raw fish eating; it’s something way more fundamental. Life = death and that understanding needs to be more fundamental.
Even now, I don’t think/feel/believe that death is bad. That isn’t why I find suicides sad. The reason I find suicides sad is because they take (I imagine, in my limited way) a tremendous degree of hopelessness in life. And if life is death, then from their hopeless life their death may also be hopeless, and that whole entire picture of hopelessness is what pains me.
Yet, death is a release. That little part, somehow I understand (I think) at a more fundamental level. It is a release. It is so for the dolphin as well as for the human.