So a thing I’ve said alot but never publicly I don’t think is that it’s entirely possible Steel Fighting saved my life. After a post on facebook made it clear I might not be the only one in this boat, in fact others might have a much more strong claim to that phrase, I decided I’d try writing about it to put it out there. In case it could help or something. I doubt I have anything profound or original to share here. My case is not inspiring. Still, I’m going to share it and hope somehow it helps someone. Maybe that someone will be me.
3 years ago, everyday driving to work I would consider driving my car off the road into the barrier, the trees, a river, whatever, thinking that a quick end would be preferable to trudging on. I would have suicidal thoughts at other times, particularly when something when wrong in my life, no matter how little. But the big thing was everyday, somewhere on that drive, I’d put serious consideration into ending it. Some days just for a few seconds. Others, though far more rare, for most of the hour long commute.
That stopped when I found steel fighting. I don’t remember when the thoughts went away…but I remember thinking, “Hey I haven’t thought about offing myself in a while” and that was a pretty cool feeling. When shit goes wrong I still panic, freeze up, and make emotional decisions that are often quite self destructive. But I never thinking about getting a gun and eating a bullet. Not even for a second. No matter how bad, I know I have a reason to live…Its not a great reason. It’s not morally good. It’s not likely to have an impact on more than a few dozen or at most a few hundred people. It’s enough though. It’s my personal mission, my personal meaning to life, a quest that I can put all of myself into without reserve. And that’s what I needed.
I never tried to kill myself. I was lucky. My struggle was never, I want to die. It was more, I have no reason nor desire to live. Killing myself was a positive action though. It required me to have a reason to do it…and I was one of those very very few privileged people to really have nothing all that bad in my life. I had no trauma, I had a loving set of parents, I had friends, I had enough money to never have to struggle. I have life on easy mode and I know and am eternally grateful….however I still never wanted it.
Being alive…for some people I think it just hurts. I don’t know what it is, but for some reason the idea of being alive itself is not appealing. I’ve had suicidal thoughts since childhood, before I really understood what death was. Something about the complete utter callousness of the world turns me off to the idea of life. At heart I’m a nihilist, I know there is no meaning, there is no purpose, no greater good, no justice, no balance. We are a cosmic accident meant to return to the void. That frightens me more than anything. The unbelievable unfairness of being born just to have to die. I often wished I’d never had to experience any of it. There’s a scene in Tombstone that always spoke to me a bit to much for my comfort.
Wyatt Earp: What makes a man like Ringo, Doc? What makes him do the things he does?
Doc Holliday: A man like Ringo has got a great big hole, right in the middle of him. He can never kill enough, or steal enough, or inflict enough pain to ever fill it.
Wyatt Earp: What does he need?
Doc Holliday: Revenge.
Wyatt Earp: For what?
Doc Holliday: Bein’ born.
I hope this doesn’t offend those who’s struggle is because of real trauma, hurt, or loss. I know I’ve had it easy and I don’t mean to demean or even suggest my struggle is akin to yours. I simply want to put out how this has helped me. The reason I made it to the point where I could try steel was essentially because I never had a reason. There was nothing to run from. Nothing to hide from. No need to end the constant pain. Life was a dull ache for me, that I covered at different times with drugs, alcohol, and other momentary distraction pursuits of hedonism. I never found goals. I never found purpose. I had friends, family, security…and none of that meant anything….I had nothing worth getting out of bed in the morning. I simply did it because that’s what we’re supposed to do right?
I sometimes wonder if what is lost when society reaches this point is purpose. When you spend every moment trying to survive you don’t need to stop and ask yourself why? You just do it because it’s basic biology to reach out and try to make it another day. When that struggle is taken from you though, you might start to ask why? And when you keep failing to come up with an answer no matter how many things you try…it begins to drag.
I don’t know if I’d have killed myself without steel. I know I would have if I got hit with any real tragedy or set back…because back then I had no will power to hold on. I was a coward searching for the easy way out. I still have to fight that urge daily and fail more often than I like to admit. Without a defining negative event though…I don’t know. I think eventually the inertia of my ennui would have dragged me there. Even if it didn’t I wouldn’t have been living life. Just surviving….and what’s the point in that when you know there’s more?
I know these are the most first world of problems and my solution is the most first world of solutions. It’s triviality made manifest in a narcissistic self indulgence of blathering prose. Yet I felt compelled to put it out there. Find your passion. Follow it relentlessly. Find a way to get paid for it. And you’ll have your purpose. You’ll have given your life meaning. And then it’ll be worth the bother of trying to survive.