Imagine a coterie of lackadaisical clowns prancing around your head. Picture them with their makeup-laden faces gleefully teasing you and asking “What is the meaning of it all?”. In their sing-song voice they tease you with limericks of old mixed with the sage wisdom of the ages. This sad menagerie parading in front of you can poke at your very essence for existence. Grasping at the straws of meaning you struggle to get a hold of one. Just one. But it eludes you still as you walk around with these dancing clowns.
Sadly, life and its darker tendrils can sometimes make us feel this way.
It brings us to the point of asking, “What is the purpose of life?”, more than just asking about its meaning.
Robin Williams’ Suicide
It is sometimes scary to think that a well-beloved person, an influential character and a master of insight who elicited meaning through laughter would commit suicide. But that he did, like a true artist laying down his terms for life – and death.
Neither toil nor wisdom nor riches of lore grant our emancipation from this lingering question of generations. The wisdom of Solomon himself elucidates this further.
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 1:1
Depression as a Disease
“What’s the reason for Robin Williams’ suicide?” is a question many are asking. It exponentially reverberated through the jampacked aggregation of minds on the net.
The answer, “depression through Parkinson’s medication” is for me, just insufficient.
Still, you have to factor in other things like free will.
Depression is like meaningless life shown through slow motion. Repetitive events, a lingering discontentment, an altered perception of reality, the bleak weather and the lack of provocation in the creative genius of Williams might have taken a toll. To me, accepting the clinical prognosis that “depression is a disease” as the “cause” for Robin William’s suicide tells of a story that many might not be wanting to hear. As with many suicides, a veil of blame is cast upon the key to the truth to protect those who will grieve the most.
To cope with the reality of the nature of suicidal death, blame is only natural. The precise act of killing ourselves runs against our intrinsic instincts for self-preservation. We are, after all the strongest sperm that reached the egg.
Losing the “Self” as the Ideal Life
The seed of the idea that “finding purpose in life will counter depression” and the act of suicide has been planted in me. I don’t know how.
Maybe because finding purpose, to me is about losing ourselves to another, another cause or to a greater calling that’s worthy. I view this personal distancing, this “dying alive”, this removal of the idea of the “self” as co-equivalent to suicide. It’s a bit hard to explain so I’ll risk simplifying the idea in the hopes that I can bridge the gap in meaning.
Losing yourself to something, to someone, or to some cause is like suicide – but not of the body.
It’s about the suicide of the selfish part in “the self”. Lose the selfish part and then you become an empty vessel that can be used for something good, for something greater and for something worth living for.
To me, that is the ideal life.
Creative commons image via Flickr