It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.
That quote and this post weren’t intended to be about the election, but it would certainly apply. I’ve never been someone who cared too much about other people’s opinion of me, but I have always tried to make clear that I wasn’t part of the establishment white men. I’ve mostly stuck with the appearance of my youth—jeans, beard, long hair—throughout my life, but now I’m an old white man at a time when many consider them the enemy or something to be afraid of.
I’ve found myself wondering what t-shirt slogan would be good to adopt to reassure people. I thought of Better Dead than Red and discovered that it’s already been used in multiple versions, and let’s face it, that might make some of the gun nuts start taking target practice. Then I came up with one which at first glance doesn’t appear on the internet in this sense—Old, White, and Blue—and which works on several levels. If I were starting a new blog, that’s what I’d name it.
Now on to the originally scheduled post. I can imagine people reading this and thinking, whoa, that’s pretty damn dark! So let’s stipulate from the beginning that dark here is a synonym for dead.
Through my life, I’ve had generally good health, usually more due to genetics than much effort on my part, and know that many better people were dead long before reaching my age. My biggest physical problem has been kidney stones. I’ve just gotten over my fifth case of them, and the first which resulted in surgery (more because of poor medical care than necessity in my opinion). It was my first surgery since I had my tonsils out. I spent a very unhelpful day in the emergency room in mid-October which I wrote about , then out of desperation when my preferred cheaper and simpler (and successful on all previous occasions) treatment of steady IV fluids and strong painkillers was not even attempted, I wound up gassed, scoped, lasered, and stented in mid-November. I gave thanks when the incredibly painful stent was removed a couple days before Thanksgiving, though my prostate issues seem to have gotten worse in the aftermath of all this.
The only good thing about the past month was that the pain and lack of appetite brought me under 200 pounds for first time in five years. Of course, Thanksgiving and my first beers in a month put an end to that, but I’m hoping to drop back down soon.
Emotionally, life has always been a struggle for me. I remember holding a knife to my wrist as a teenager—not seriously considering suicide (and though I’ve always considered it my likely end if I live long enough, I’ve never attempted it) but thinking that it would be a relief to be rid of all the pain. Many childhoods are worse, but mine would never be described as good and I think between that and the flipside of those genetics, I never had much of a chance at an average life.
I decided while a teenager that I didn’t want children, or much else from a typical American Dream life. I never wanted a house, never accumulated much stuff other than books and records, and I always hated driving until I gave it up for good in my late twenties. My main philosophy was that I wanted to do as little damage to the world as possible while alive (not easy given how destructive our U.S. lives are).
I’ve gotten along but I never had any ambition to do anything in particular because I never really believed that it was possible for anything good to happen, so trying to reach some goal was pointless. I spent my life playing defense, trying to avoid extra pain because just getting through each routine day was difficult enough. I learned that falling in love was nice, but I wasn’t equipped to handle the breakups—almost dropping out of college during my senior year was just the first example. So I decided it was safer to try to keep myself blocked off from the only kind of intimacy where I was ever completely comfortable with another person. Nonhumans have always gotten most of my affection; I’d love to be living with a cat again but circumstances and age make that a bad idea so I get my animal fix where I can.
My former therapist (a non-MD) once offered me a referral if I was interested in antidepressants. Like almost all modern pharmaceuticals, I wanted nothing to do with them. I always knew that my depression was at least as much a worldview as a chemical issue, and though it certainly deeply and negatively affected my life I never suffered the complete debilitation that those who truly need the drugs do. My issue was closer to what a Swiss suicide clinic refers to as weariness of life—I’ve always been profoundly disturbed by the behavior of my species, and increasingly tired of seeing what I care about destroyed.
Perhaps I need to reassure that this is not a suicide note. If I were ready, I would have done myself in during the past month rather than deal with all the physical kidney pain and the ongoing embarrassing horror of the asshole who won the electoral college.
Reading, listening to music, and looking at the Lake usually keeps me content enough, but I have no interest in ever living blind, or in a wheelchair, or having major surgery. Hell, I don’t even want to work full time anymore, and I’m not at all sure I can force myself to keep earning enough to keep a roof over my head until I can start collecting social security.
I do think suicide should be a much more easily available and dignified option for people. Beyond the glaring fact that the planet needs a lot fewer humans on it, people deserve the same sort of treatment pets receive. If the time comes when I want to avoid pointless pain and decay or I can’t take seeing more of the natural world damaged, I should be able to do that on my terms simply and peacefully in my home with music and photos of my life, or looking at the Lake or the Rockies or the Atlantic. I shouldn’t have to use violence or a gun—if I kill myself, it won’t be out of self-hatred, but from disappointment.
This concludes this series of boring stories of glory days.