A heartbreaking work

4 Jan

I don’t know much about suicide. I’ve read a few books, seen a few movies, in which one or more of the characters decides to end things. Thankfully, thankfully, thankfully, suicide has never touched me personally.

In the first act of this week’s “This American Life,” the friend of a man who had unsuccessfully tried to take his own life sat down and interviewed him about why. The friend edited the tape down and sent it to the unhappy man, thinking that if he could hear his own words, he would snap out of it.

The guy talked about how he was convinced everyone else was just grinding along, how children gave you an artificial reason to live. He seemed so unshakable in this notion, that people, if they were being honest with themselves, would admit how unhappy they are. At least on the edited tape, the friend didn’t contradict him.

I, on the other hand, exclaimed aloud as I climbed the empty staircase to my apartment. It’s not true! There are plenty of people who are sincerely happy and fulfilled in their life. I, unemployed, disconnected, and aimless, am sincerely happy with my life and working on the fulfilled part. I don’t think it’s because I’m young and naïve, but it could be. I understand it must get harder to be satisfied when you have real responsibilities like a mortgage, sick parents, expensive children, an angry boss. But even with those concerns, I believe it’s possible.

If you’re not listening to Chicago Public Radio’s “This American Life,” I highly recommend checking it out. You can subscribe to it for free on iTunes and it updates every week. Almost always the shows they do are a lot more light-hearted than this one, but sometimes we need to examine these unhappy truths.

The title of the post  is from the book I’m reading right now, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I like it well enough so far, though I would call it neither heartbreaking or staggering, at least not just yet.

One Response to “A heartbreaking work”

  1. Monique January 5, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    Wow that sounds crazy. I definitely want to check it out!

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