Day 483: Hometown Tragedy

NOTE: It's 11am and our internet is back up. It's a late posting. 

No internet connection tonight. I just fired up the blog but couldn’t get online and have no intention of driving down the mountain to look for a signal. Not tonight. Too tired. I don’t have it in me. So I’ll write the blog tonight in another program, and hopefully by the time I get up in the morning we’ll have our connection restored, I’ll post the blog, and all will be well with the world. If it was only that easy. 

The connection has been balls of late, conking out just before we left for the Ottawa trip and now, the night after we arrived. Grim!

I will say that I’m very excited to sleep in my own bed tonight. Jeannette informed me that she’d be sleeping with Blaze and that I could start throwing him back into the crib tomorrow night. Seemed fine by me, and as I said, I was too tired to argue! She beats me down that woman, when it comes to sleeping with Blazer. She picks her moments well and hits me just when I don’t have the strength to argue my points. Still, it’s hard to get mad at something that’s so bloody adorable. The two of them are inseparable. Checking in on them sleeping is like finding a puppy that’s gotten into a big ball or yarn; sure there’s a bit of a mess to clean up, and your new scarf might be ruined, but shit man, it’s a puppy with a big ball of yarn!! How do you get mad at that?

I had a bit of a rough day today in other ways I will admit. 

I learned earlier this morning about a young local girl, a 15 year old, who died tragically recently under circumstances that are becoming more and more familiar in this area.. and seemingly the whole world for that matter. I was caught off guard by how it affected me to be honest. It really hit me hard. I drove Jeannette and I home this morning and couldn’t get this young girl out of my head. I didn’t know her, only what I’d learned of her life from the obituary my mother read to me, but it was the circumstances of her death that really affected me. 

Suffering. 

So much suffering with the youth these days. So much anxiety and despair and confusion and pain. And we’re headed in the wrong direction, a fact that seems more and more apparent as time goes on, and more young people fall by the wayside. 

I really struggled with it today as I tried to figure out why it had upset me so much, internal inventory being something I’m very serious about these days, but even more important than why it was affecting me so much was what to do about it. I had decided upon at the very least writing this entry about the young girl, who died in the very same park I grew up across from and played in when I was a kid, who died senselessly and tragically. I had planned on doing it earlier today but before I wrote anything I decided that I should look up her information so that I knew more about what happened and familiarized myself with her. But I couldn’t find anything on her story.  

So I pulled up the in memorium for my community and started scanning all the people that had passed away recently. Instead of finding the young girl I’d been looking for -perhaps because it happened too recently- I found the obituary of another young person, a young man of 20 who died under similar tragic circumstances, just last month. The obituary was written by a family member and in addition to listing the details of his life, as you ordinarily see, I read what was essentially a postmortem cry for help by the writer. They spoke of a kid who had suffered from depression until finally ‘slipping through the cracks’ of a mental health system that just doesn’t work; a sentiment I’ve heard a lot lately, especially from my mother, who worked nearly her entire adult life in that field and has watched it deteriorate to the point it is now.

I can confidently use the word deteriorate, despite the hard work of the professional people in the field, because of the fact that so many people are choosing to take their lives rather than wait for anyone to help them. I have heard enough stories by now to know these events weren’t merely aberrations, the results of a couple of kids gone awry, but that it is in effect a systematic failure of our own culture and how we serve each other, based on the one thing that doesn’t actually matter in this world; money. 

Is suicide not the most tragic form of death, if death is something you can actually put a scale on. Worse than accidents or diseases surely. The idea of being in such a spiritually damaged state as to come to the conclusion that taking your own life is the only viable option. Can there be any greater mark of a failure of a society than the fact that it’s youth are killing themselves? 

Suicide has always been a very difficult thing for me to deal with. A good friend of mine took his own life back in my Toronto days. One of the comedians I’d met in my early days who had been very kind to me and very supportive. He was a gentle soul, like the young man I read about today, who was in such internal turmoil that one day he decided the only thing to do was to make it all stop. It was one of the most painful experiences of my life. Perhaps because deep down we all know what a horrific fate that is; to willingly extinguish one’s own existence. To feel so separated and alienated from everyone and everything around you that you convince yourself that life has nothing left to offer. 

Surely that is the greatest self delusion there is. And who are we as people if we don’t do anything and everything we can in order to at least offer a hand to the people going through these types of dark issues in our very own community. Surely every family and everyone reading this has been touched by this issue, if not within themselves at some point, then in their own families. So why then do we do nothing? 

It got me thinking. 

The young man I read about struck a cord with me because I too grew up in this area and struggled a lot with depression when I was his age. It wasn’t until I had found standup comedy; something that would satisfy my own overwhelming desire to attach my life to something of value, that I was able to shake off those early dark clouds and come out of it. But I had to leave here to find it. I found no help while here, no reason to stay in this area, no mentors or programs that sparked my interest in anything at all. I was just another lost kid stumbling around trying to find his way in a world that seemed not to give a shit and people too busy with their own things to really take an interest. 

That way is getting more difficult now, despite the technologies and knowledge available that should be making that path much easier. All you have to do is turn on the TV and within seconds you’ll be bombarded with new reasons to think there’s no hope, that nothing is getting better and that the world is going to shit. Difficult enough for the adults of the world to deal with, I think you’d agree, us adults who are battle hardened soldiers to the perils that exist in this world, but then how difficult must all that be when you’re just starting out in life and are looking for reasons to be positive. A particularly dangerous white noise to have on in the background when you’re young and impressionable and desperately looking for meaning. 

So I immersed myself in these thoughts today and in doing so was able to fix my sights on something I can do; a way to fuse my own path to something happening right now that’s affecting a lot of people around me, in my own community. 

To this point in my life I’ve been a man without a mission. A man without a cause. My awakening two years ago was the first slap in the face that things in my own life were off course and that there was another way of living with a much deeper meaning that would be so much more satisfying than being caught up in a career of self-aggrandizement. Since then however, as I’ve tried to follow the path that’s put in front of me, rather than try to force that path to fit what I “thought” I wanted, I’ve consistently been given answers to the questions I pose and the pieces have fallen into place in a way that I would have been quite skeptical of even just a few years ago, but I still hadn’t seen the clear path forward. 

Patience has been difficult, but a good lesson. 

And that’s what happened today. Today, by allowing myself to suffer and by then looking for a way to transform those feelings into something positive, I came up with what I think might be the final piece of the puzzle for how I’m going to move forward from here. I mentioned some of it last night, and am now way too tired to get into it tonight, but suffice it to say that I now have something very concrete to work on. Or perhaps, more specifically, something concrete to work for. Oh, I’ve got plenty of projects to work on, that’s never been my problem. But the question of what to work for, has always been something that’s eluded me. A reason to put myself out there and try to draw attention to what I’m doing. 

Both of my parents worked in the mental health field, my mother at the hospital and my father in drug and alcohol counselling. These are the issues that I know, the ones that I have a personal connection to. The key was finding out how I can use my particular skill set to combat the issues that most call out to me. And I think I did that today. 

Anyway, before I wrap this up I would like to express my sincere and deepest condolences to the families of both of the children I learned about today. I won’t use their names because I don’t feel it appropriate at this point, but I have spent the majority of my day thinking about them, and will now be spending the majority of my professional life working on their behalf. In the only way I know how. 

Have a good night munks. 

And thanks for checking in. 

|mp

mp