The last few days have been gloomy for me because a friend of mine committed suicide. It wasn’t absolutely unexpected, because she had a poor ACE score, and her son had committed suicide several years ago. However, she had decided never to let that stand in the way of living life to the to the limits of its joy. She was our local Tony Robbins of can-do exuberance, and gave us wonderful monthly lectures on how we too could achieve her striking success in life. I had rewritten my ACE versus PCE chart to include her as my personal example of someone who wasn’t trapped by her negative past experiences. It appeared she had done everything necessary to turn a potential life of despair into one of continuously transcendent joy. Even when she was sitting still watching someone do their thing she was radiating exuberance.
In last week’s update of the ACE-PCE test (PDF) I had added the line, “Of course many of the most successful people score poorly on these quizzes, and they may be the most valuable friends of all, because they learned how to cope with the most difficult of life’s problems.” I specifically had her in mind when I posted those words. … And now this?
Somehow, to retain my own confirmation-biased view of my world, I must make sense out of her sense-destroying act. As far as I know she never read the chart above, so I don’t think it had anything to do with her action, but she does throw into confusion my belief that people can choose to rise above their terrible childhood and extreme adulthood traumas. I just wrote a blog about free will a couple of days ago and had scheduled it but it was not yet posted when she ended her life. It’s titled, I live within inertia and so do you. It’s about the tiny effect our free will of the moment has on the momentum of the vast number of free will decisions of our past actions.
In her conversations of the last several weeks she had repeatedly spoken of her son’s suicide, and the voluntary quality of that act. She spoke with approval of his taking charge of his own life, and his voluntary ending of it. I sensed she was having some life stress, and I had a slight feeling that she was condoning suicide a little too strongly, but it seemed so abstract, and referring only to other people’s decisions. The feeling behind that idea was weak compared to the energy she exerted when talking about the various techniques for coping with life’s problems. It seemed strange that one of her last lectures was on the subject of lying. Everyone was astonished at the subject, but it was a great lecture, and enthusiastically received.
Is it the champions of other people’s needs who are the most in need of help?