Posts Tagged ‘suicide note’

The previous post concerns an elderly gentleman who sent my husband a suicide note in 2009. The man wrote that while he had no fear of death, he was “particular” about how he might die and that he was planning to quit while he was “ahead.”

Far from being “defeated,” “disabled,” or “discouraged,” (among several negative adjectives he provided), he said that positive words best represented his mental state.

He then employed a metaphor to show how biological life–“the route from birth to death”–can be distinguished from the “real” life of  “experiences, hardships, education, hope, love, joy, sorrow, etc.”  To him, biological life is a “stream on which I ride in a canoe. There is a paddle, but I don’t use it. I am carried down the stream of life with no effort on my part. This is a very personal stream: each person has his own and is alone on it. I have drifted along on mine for going on 88 years. Keep that in mind: it affects one’s perspective.”

The metaphor is perplexing:  1) In what sense could it possibly be true that our biological life–our “route from birth to death”–is distinguishable from “real” life?  2) How can biological life symbolized as a “stream on which I ride in a canoe”  capture the fullness–variety, color, mystery, transcendence–of his or anyone’s life?  3) If he means “I am carried down the stream of life with no effort on my part” to argue that, like everyone, he’s growing older, the idea makes sense. But to say he is alone on his stream (and apparently thinks he always has been) makes no sense to me. Reading it, I imagine his grown children found the comment jarring and wrongheaded.

There’s still more to say about this good man.

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