Monthly Archives: June 2018

Thoughts On Suicide

This morning, I learned of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide. On Tuesday, I learned of Kate Spade’s suicide. Over the past week, I have also had friends lose loved ones and acquaintances, some of natural causes, but a surprising number to suicide. In fact, the majority, sadly.

Thankfully, because I am surrounded by social workers and other thoughtful people on social media, there have been many posts about mental health, coupled with the suicide hotline number.

Not surprisingly, as I read through some of the comments on the celebrity deaths, there were people who chose to speak out without compassion… or understanding. They couldn’t fathom how somebody who “had it all” (aka: wealth and fame) should be mourned for being “stupid enough” to take their own lives. One even said, “boo hoo… not!” *sigh*

But here’s the simple truth about suicide:

One of our most basic and primal drives (in fact, it might be THE most basic and primal drive we have) is self-preservation. It’s biologically hard-wired into us. It’s hard-wired into every living thing in nature to survive.

Therefore, for someone to complete a suicide they would have to override the most basic biological drive they have. How bad do things have to be for them to do this? Pretty bad.

Overriding self-preservation has nothing to do with wealth or fame, nothing to do with gender, age, race, faith, or any other superficial “category” we assign to other human beings. To think that any of those “things” should be enough to protect someone is ridiculous, because none of them compare to the most primal drive we have: self-preservation.

As I mourn the loss of a person whose work I truly enjoyed, my heart aches more for the friends who are mourning the loss of family and loved ones. It’s often said that “suicide is never the answer.” But unless you have been in their shoes, living with something so dark that you can override your most basic need, I don’t think we should judge. I think we should only offer them love that their souls may heal and be free, and surround those left behind with strength and grace. 💖

The ‘One Size Fits All’ Myth

Life is not “one size fits all.” It never has been, and never will be… thankfully. Our health, our bodies, our faith (to name a few) – they’re all beautifully individual and unique, as they were meant to be, despite Madison Avenue’s best efforts to convince us otherwise.

Where we have found overlap and commonality, we have created fellowship or community. But those communities survive (and thrive) not because of our similarities, but because of our differences.

Unfortunately, so many industries are built up (and thrive) on this notion of convincing us that we are all meant to be the same, or “within normal limits.” [That’s actually a term used in medicine: WNL, and that’s what it stands for. But the internal joke among medical professionals is that it can also mean: “we never looked.” Sigh.]

We strive for “normal” because it’s what we’re told we should be. Normal height and weight, normal mental health, normal eating habits, normal exercise routine, normal grades (which, interestingly, translates to “above average”).

But what if you don’t fit into the “normal” categories you’re inundated with on a daily basis (and most of us don’t, in one way or another)? What if your genetics, DNA, pant size, skin type, or blood type don’t follow the guidelines for “normal?” What do you do then?

Well, if you buy into the paradigm of “normal” or “one size fits all” thinking, you begin to bend over backwards to become anything that fits the mold. Unfortunately.

Because humanity is anything but “one size.” It’s not meant to be. Just like no tigers have the exact same stripes, humans are meant to be as diverse as possible, with as many expressions and combinations we can have. We’re meant to flourish and grow, ever-expanding… exponentially. In fact, the only “normal” thing about being human is being unique.

Being uniquely you is what creates the diversity that allows communities to thrive. If everyone were a doctor, we’d fail. If everyone were a teacher, an artist, a banker – we’d fail. We need each person to be who they are… to be the cog in the wheel they are meant to be, and there’s nothing “normal” or “one-size-fits-all” about that. Being unique is healthy, striving for sameness is not.

More importantly, it’s the very nature of the Universe to be expansive, to continually be changing and growing. (Look at evolution!) So, to subscribe to a notion that promotes sameness is to go against the very nature of our being, and makes life so much harder. And who wants that? Yuk!

The connections we create in our overlap is what makes the journey more rewarding. When you find someone who loves the same things you do, you celebrate and form a bond. Hooray!But it’s the differences we get to experience in one another that actually makes us human.