When Brilliance Kills Itself
Suicide, the word alone, seems almost not violent enough. Not that all death is, but when someone grasps their very own fate right in their hands and chooses to end it all, it feels like it needs more than just a word.
The comedic genius Robin Williams took his own life this week. Few things fuzzy up the mind like someone who was so full of bright energy and endless laughs could succumb to the demon of depression. I guess you never really know the inside of a mind, even one that from the outer realms seems to be filled with sunshine and happiness.
I think of my favorite author Ernest Hemingway. A man who lived a full life even in his 60's, traveling around the world hunting extravagant game, cavorting with beautiful women, drinking high-end scotch with high-end people all while writing stories filled with romance and wonderment. How could someone like that make their final pen stroke with a shotgun pressed into their mouth?
Then a beautiful poet, so young in years but worn from a bad marriage and years of depression by the name of Sylvia Plath buried her face into a gas oven. A poet whose work cracked any false shell of perfection and pointed squarely at her own story to create art. At the ripe age of 30, her life was gone.
And Vincent Van Gogh. Kurt Cobain. Anne Sexton. Hunter S. Thompson. Junior Seau. David Foster Wallace.
Why does it seem the best of us, the stars that shine so bright fade before they're supposed to?
What storm is so relentless that the only escape is to extinguish life?
I'm tired of blogs that try to tie suicide up with a deranged bow, one that's ugly but still gives closure. I'm tired of reading the blaming of people for the depression they cannot escape. I'm tired of searching, attempting to reason. I don't struggle with it. I can't reason it.
Here is what I can do: see people beyond my expectations of them. The rigid exterior doesn't fit us all. I can stop believing everything is okay when people say everything is okay. I can see beyond the smiles and understand that, to some degree, hurt exists. Everywhere.
I can strip away the plastic. Unveil my own hurts and struggles so we can all drop weary burdens and confess that pain is real for everyone. I can release the need to understand the inner workings of a mind hung up on telling its owner they don't deserve to live.
I want the brilliant minds of this world to thrive. I want them to know we need them. We need the words of a Hemingway and Plath. We need the laughs only Robin Williams can make. We need the art of Van Gogh.
And we need to stop trying to make sense of it all. Trust me, it's exhausting. We'll never come to an honest unanimous answer. We need to stop talking, start listening, be vulnerable, and reach out hands.