Life Is Music
It's Only Dark
("she crossed herself and in God's name blew her holy light away")
by Rix Roundtree-Harrison
In 2015 suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Over 43,000 Americans took their lives that year. 8,000 Americans contemplate suicide each year. That's 22 people a day considering suicide. If you are thinking of suicide to escape life, don't do it. Put your despair and dark thoughts aside. Believe me; it's only dark for a short period. You know why? I'll tell you why. Life is short. You don't have to commit suicide, just wait. You'll be dead in no time.
The universe with its one hundred million galaxies is 14 billion years old. One of these galaxies is the Milky Way which is 13 billion years old. Situated within the Milky Way galaxy is our solar system that is 4.6 billion years old. Rotating in the solar system is our own planet Earth which is 4.5 billion years old. The Earth's 21st century is now in the 16th year of a 100 year span of a timeline that is itself 3.5 billion years old. The average lifespan of inhabitants of earth is 79 years. The universe is 14 billion years old. The average lifespan of a human is 79 years. Divide 14 billion years by 79 years and you get 177,215,189.873 million years. Do you know where 79 years fits into 177,215,189.873 years? It's a spec of time so infinitesimally small you need a microscope to see it. It's a blip in time so miniscule if you blink you miss it.
Life is short, suicide is pointless. But when I was 21 years old I took no comfort in "Life is short." So immersed in my personal pain, grief, despair and depression, I attempted suicide. It was not as some suicide attempts are, a calling out for help. I truly wanted to die. I was in misery. I hated life and thought that my miserable wretched life would go on forever. Filled with dark despair I sat in my tiny efficiency apartment reflecting on my life. On this night I was overwhelmed with loneliness and despair. I had a job at which I felt I was an inadequate failure. I had no friends or love. I became so severely depressed that I did not want to continue on with life. I'd had enough. I decided that I would bring my dreadful depressing miserable lonely life to an end by committing suicide. Suicide wasn't something that I'd been contemplating. The idea came upon me that night. I decided that this is what I needed to do in order to end this emotional pain I'd been living with for quite a while. I saw suicide as the only escape.
I looked around my cluttered apartment and thought I'd clean it before I committed suicide. I didn't want whoever discovered my dead body to walk into an unkempt and dirty apartment. I didn't want anyone to think I was a messy person. I thought about leaving a suicide note explaining to my family that I was unhappy and lonely and that's why I took my life. Then I thought I didn't need to tell my family that I was miserable, a suicide is self-explanatory. Happy people don't kill themselves. But then I wondered if I needed to explain to the family what led to this action. Did I need to let them know that my suicide was not their fault? Should I put them at ease by letting them know that there was absolutely nothing they could have done to prevent it? I thought for a moment and realized I didn't know what to write. How could I explain something in a letter to my family that I couldn't even explain to myself? I didn't think I could put all the mixed up sad thoughts going on in my head in a letter. Even if I could I thought no one would even understand it, so why bother. I decided against leaving a suicide note. Sure my family would have questions, but their lives will go on. They'll be sad for a minute. But then they'll have to deal with their own lives, boyfriends, girlfriends, marriage, children and jobs. I'll be forgotten in no time because for the living, life, and all that comes with it, goes on.
As to the actual suicide itself, my question was how to do it. I'm not into bloody violent actions, so hanging and wrist or throat slitting was out. I didn't own a gun and even if I had, shooting myself was out. I wanted to die, but I did not want to leave a horrific bloody mess that someone would have to clean up. I also didn't want to leave a gruesome image that would remain forever etched in the mind of the person(s) who found my dead body. I thought a death that was neat clean and quiet would be preferable. A death resembling sleep was the answer. I had just the thing to accomplish this. From my bathroom medicine cabinet I pulled out a bottle of pain killers that I had been prescribed for a leg injury. I downed the entire bottle of pills. After I'd swallowed the pills I decided to remain dressed as opposed to getting into my pajamas. I lay down on my sofa to die.
Something strange happened that night. As I lay there waiting to fall asleep and die, it began to rain. I was pleased to hear the rain. The sound of raindrops hitting a roof creates a beautiful hypnotic music that lulls me into a deep and enveloping sleep. I thought that the beautiful sound of the falling rain will put me to sleep and then the pills will end the misery that was my life. I was at peace. But this time the beautiful sound of falling rain did not put me to sleep, it kept me awake. I couldn't fall asleep because the ceiling of my apartment began to leak, right above my head. Plop, plop, drip drop went the water droplets that landed on my head as they fell from the ceiling. In order to escape the dropping rainwater and to get on with my dying, I moved my sofa to the other side of the room. Guess what? That section of the ceiling began to leak, right on my head. Annoyed, I moved again. Again the same thing happened. New leaks sprouted in the ceiling above me. No matter where I moved to, leaks would form right above me. I became frustrated with these annoying roof leaks which were interrupting my dying.
The ceiling in the kitchen wasn't leaking. But I couldn't move into the kitchen to die because it was too small, only room enough to stand. Same with the bathroom, its ceiling was not leaking. But it was so small. There was only a toilet, a small sink right next to it and the small shower (no bathtub). There was no room to comfortably lie on the bathroom floor and die. I moved around the efficiency living room again. But just as before, leaks followed me wherever I would move. So, I ended up spending the entire night dodging falling water from a leaking ceiling. All though the night I was placing glasses, cups, bowls, pots and pans beneath the leaks to catch the water. When these vessels filled with rainwater, I had to empty them and again place them beneath the leaks. So I didn't sleep at all that night. I spent the entire night dodging catching and dumping rainwater.
When dawn broke the rain had stopped and a radiant sun lit up a brilliant electric blue sky. I was still alive. But I was as sick, dizzy, groggy and discombobulated due to the pills I'd taken. Feeling so sick I wished I was dead. I drank a pot of coffee and then actually went to work and "Why not?" I thought to myself, "I'm not dead. I'm already dressed. I might as well go to work."
From my job I called my landlord and told him about the leaking ceiling. After work I arrived home to meet the roofer guy my landlord had sent over to repair the leaking roof. When the roofer guy finished inspecting the roof and my ceiling, he concluded that there was nothing wrong with the roof and saw no indications of ceiling leaks. According to the roofer, the roof and ceiling were in excellent condition. I told this guy the ceiling had leaked. He cast me a look of disbelief. After the roofer guy left, I began to wonder if the pills I'd taken in my failed suicide attempt had made me delusional. Had I imagined the leaking ceiling? Then I went into the kitchen and saw all those glasses, pots, pans, cups and bowls filled with rainwater and knew I hadn't imagined it.
It had rained many times prior to my suicide attempt, but the roof of my apartment had never leaked before. It rained many times after my suicide attempt and that roof never leaked again. The way I read this was my tormentors, the Gods, did not want me to die that night as they were not about to let me commit suicide and cheat them out of the curse of pain, loneliness, misery, suffering and self-loathing that they had placed upon me. I didn't think this at the time, but today I ask myself, perhaps the Gods didn't allow me die because they had future plans for me that were anything but horrible.
When I was 21 I attempted suicide, it failed, obviously. As it turned out, I'm glad I didn't succeed with my suicide attempt. If my suicide attempt had been successful I would have not made it to the 21st century. The 21st century! Man do I love the 21st century! Despite Zika, ISIS, warring black and blue lives (that matter), terrorism, and Donald Trump, I'm thrilled to be here in the 21st century. I love the place. And to think, back in the 20th century I wanted to bring it all to an end. If I'd succeeded with my suicide attempt I'd have missed all the momentous events of the 21st century and the many gifts this century would bestow upon me.
In the 21st century I received gifts like getting to see the births of, and getting to know, my beautiful wonderful nieces and nephews. Learning that my father, who died when I was 13, was one of the first pioneering African American radio disc jockeys in the nation. Finding my dad's widow, my stepmother, in 2008 was truly a gift as she died 3 months after I found her. The 21st century also gifted me a wonderful life and career in the nation's capital, Washington DC. In Washington I ended up working for the absolute best employer ever, the marvelous and wonderful, Daughters of the American Revolution. I developed a network of friends from all over the world. And get this, it's so unbelievable, I got to work on the sets of big budget Hollywood movies like Angelina's Jolie's Salt and Transformers: The Dark of the Moon. But the biggest gift of all, I became a published author. Who would have thought it?
Had my suicide attempt had been successful I would have missed momentous 21st century events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the legalization of medicinal marijuana and the decriminalization of recreational pot (in some states), same sex marriage, scientific and medical breakthroughs. I would not have witnessed the election of the first African American President of the United States, the first woman President of the United States and my favorite, computer tech, specifically, the smart phone . . . I love my phone.
The smartphone is the wonderful little piece of technology. It actually connects us to the 21st century. This is a first. Never in our history has a device connected everyone (individually) to everyone else in the world. It's awesome. I love it. With the smartphone I've got the world and a world of information at my fingertips. Everything is easily accessible to me. When I'm down I can look for ways to fix myself. I can find others who feel the way I do and how they resolved the problem. The isolation I felt when I attempted suicide is non-existent with the smartphone. The phone keeps families and friends connected. That's the 21st century, connectivity. With the smartphone we all carry our lives around with us. Each of us, through social media, contacts, cultural favorites and family create our own little timelines that we carry around with us. We mix and mingle creating stories. Through 21st century tech we see that our stories are complex littles entities, exclusive to no one individual yet your story is uniquely your own. Everyone has a story. They are stories within stories that parallel entwine and merge, creating a plethora of storytellers. Storytellers and stories collide crafting a story, comprised of stories, within the story of life experiences. I bet even Mr. Alexander Graham Bell would love what's become of his invention the telephone. Did you know that Mr. Bell came to hate the telephone? Why? People kept calling him on it. They didn't want anything important. They just called to chat. This annoyed Mr. Bell. I can relate. But today you can put your phone on vibrate or silence and you don't have to talk to anyone. To stay connected today, you don't have to call or talk, just sent a text. It's wonderful!
Since I made it to the awesome 21st century, I'm going to take this opportunity to do something I've never done before. I'm going to take a stand on something. That something is marijuana. I know. I'm late to the game. For years many people, such as the late comic Rodney Dangerfield and actors such as Woody Harrelson, have supported pot legalization. I think marijuana is wonderful. Pot helps with creativity and reduces stress. Medically weed is helpful with dealing with a variety of medical ailments such as pain relief, migraines, seizures, hypertension and sleeplessness. I have a hard time falling and staying asleep. Pot makes me sleep like a baby and I wake feeling fresh. As for pot being a gateway drug that leads to the use of harder drugs, rubbish. I smoked pot for a decade before I took on harder drugs. And it was loneliness, depression and low self-worth that led me to them, not pot. I do believe pot, like alcohol, should be kept away from kids. Marijuana could have a damaging effect on kids as pot has the tendency to sometimes make one lazy. This could adversely affect a child's mental development and have a detrimental effect on their education. Though I'm a pot advocate I don't recommend cooking after you've smoked it. I have a friend who smoked pot and then decided to make me breakfast. He was so stoned that he didn't see that the bread that he was going to use for French toast was blue green moldy. I spotted this immediately (I hadn't smoked) and said to him, "No cooking while smoked! You could poison somebody . . . me!"
Grateful to have made it to the 21st century I did my small part for medical science. I helped with medical scientific research. I gave up a sample of my DNA to the Feds for research. The Feds informed me that my DNA sample would be manipulated studied and used to look for ways to combat and cure illnesses. They would use it to seek ways to heal the American soldier of tomorrow, to study genetic predisposition to illnesses. I had to sign a waiver giving the Feds permission to do anything they wanted with my DNA sample. I joke with my nieces and nephew. I tell them, later in the 21st century, when they've grown into adults and I have long since died and turned to dust. Should they see me walking down the street and I'm younger than them, it's not me, it's my clone. A clone the Feds made with my DNA sample. Hey, it's the Feds. I wouldn't put it past them.
Yes, I'm going to die in the near future, because, life is short. Considering suicide? Perish the thought. You will die soon enough. If dying of old age seems like that will take too long for you, take comfort, you may not be around long. You could die in a terrorist attack or from an illness because you can't get medical marijuana. You could be shot and killed by the police. You could die in a self-driving car accident, a flood or a wildfire caused by global warming. You are going to die, and soon. So why commit suicide, it's pointless.
If you are deep in despair and see suicide as an option, seek professional help. I did. It was without a doubt one of the smartest things I ever did. Psychiatrists possess the ability to make you think and ask yourself questions which can guide you to the answers that are already there within you. Also, keep a journal or diary. Write down what's going on in your life, your head and how you feel. Sometimes writing things down can lead to a path out of the darkness. I did this and these journal entries ending up becoming a self-help book I wrote titled, The Older You Get, The Dumber You Get: Stories for my Daughters. It was two years after the publication of this book when I shocked myself. One August afternoon I realized that I'd been happy and content with my life for a while. I thought to myself something I had never thought before, this was, "I like myself. I like the person I've become." I never saw that coming. I think the mind is like a complicated rubix cube puzzle. It takes time to successfully put all the puzzle pieces together. But once you do you have clarity. In this new found clarity I realized that I had found self-acceptance and forgiveness of myself. I now accepted my imperfect self and all my flaws. I'd also learned the importance (and necessity) of making changes. When things appeared in my life that I didn't like I made changes. After my failed suicide attempt I changed jobs like changing clothes. I enrolled in college, moved to new cities, took classes and began writing. Change, like suicide, is an option. Fortunately, change is an option that should it not work you can make more changes. Suicide unfortunately is permanent, no more changes after that. So that old saying is quite apt, "Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem."
Contemplating suicide? Remember this, if you do successfully commit suicide, you haven't erased yourself from the timeline, you existed. There's a record of your life. Your life is a story. Don't bring your story to a sad abrupt end, let it play out. Even without suicide, your life will be a short story. Remember, the average human lifespan is 79 years. 14 billion years, the age of the universe, divided by 79 years is 177,215,189.873 million years. Do you know where 79 years fits into that? That's right, blink and you've missed it. So you're not going to be around that long. You're strong enough to handle living a life that's gone in the blink of an eye. So in that context, it's only dark for a fraction of a fraction of a millisecond. After the darkness of depression and despair fades, a lot can happen with those 79 short years. Life can get very interesting, surprising, fulfilling, and fun. Believe me, I know. Because whether you believe in God, Gods, fate, destiny or you're atheist, you don't know what the future holds for you. Life may seem dark now but it's only dark for a brief moment. My suicide attempt failed. Just imagine, if my suicide attempt had been successful I would not have lived to bring about, The End Of My World.
Nikolas Thime: The End Of My World. Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Apple iBooks
© 2016 Rix Roundtree-Harrison
Written by: Rix Roundtree-Harrison