Life and Death

August 10, 2004

I am ready to die. The depression that has come as a result of the past few months is worsening, and I feel helpless in its grasp. It seems that every time I find a positive or uplifting piece of news that the world slaps be back down with more negative or out of control energy.

We are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. If the house in Illinois doesn’t sell soon we won’t be able to stay ahead of our bills. Calls will start coming in and we’ll “go poor” as Michele puts it so aptly. We worked so long and so hard to get away from monthly financial crises, to return to that stressful and agonizing way of living now is almost too bitter a pill to swallow.

Our relationship with each other has suffered in the process. We are both raw and numb at the same time. We are afraid to talk for fear of overwhelming the other, unable to maintain our own balance in the stoic miasma that results. I love Michele more than I can describe in words, and for a long time that has sustained me in times of dire emotion.

I am not sure that my love for her, or her love for me, is enough to make this painful existence worth living any more. My parents are slowly falling apart physically. Every week brings new news of another aliment, another drug reaction, and another doctor to see. Knowing that staying in this life means watching them die, and having to deal with the emotional flood that will result is not life affirming.

My brother and his family are also struggling just above the line that separates those who will stay safe and secure in the world, and those who will slip into the danger zone, perhaps never to recover. Michele and I slipped into that zone in the first year of our marriage. We fought long and hard to recover and were finally almost safe. The loss of my job in March pushed us back into jeopardy, and we remain there still.

I know that if we stay here that we’ll eventually recover. We’ll do without, and sacrifice, and suffer the indignities our “civilization” forces upon those in need. We’ll lose part of ourselves as the scars and wounds this lifestyle will leave will separate us from our core truth.

All I want from life is to be with Michele. The best part of my recent unemployment was being with her all the time. We had talked during the darker days of that period about a cut off date, a date when we would step off this mortal coil rather than face a continued struggle. Our date was to be September 1st. There was something comforting and enabling about having a literal “drop dead” date. We haven’t talked about it since I got my offer, nor since we’ve moved. But with the increase in stress lately I’ve started thinking about it once again.

I know that depression robs you of your ability to think clearly, you lose focus, you are unable to fathom even simple tasks. I feel as if the pressure that is upon us is artificial, that it is somehow there only because I imagine it to be there. And yet I know not how to remove this burden.

The samurai say, “Today is a good day to die.” I’ve taken that to mean control of ones death makes the burdens and challenges in life easier to face. This attitude certainly helped me during the long struggle to find a new job. Knowing that ultimately I controlled my life in the only sense that mattered (i.e. whether I chose to live or die) gave me the strength to face the obstacles in my way. However the caveat to this code is leaving your life in good order before you die. With the outstanding obligations I have I would be leaving responsibilities behind for someone else to deal with. In and of itself this doesn’t disturb me, my only real concern is whether this left behind responsibilities would create karma I would have to deal with in the next lifetime.

For that matter, would leaving now under my own choice create a situation where I’d have to return to similar life to get the lesson or lessons left uncompleted in this life? Or have I reached the conclusion of this lesson? Am I truly ready to move on?

Writing this out has helped to release some of the tremendous negative energy I had building up inside of me. Michele and I cleansed our apartment not too long ago (with startling results), maybe we need to cleanse ourselves too.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.