You may be wondering what the main header picture at the top of each page is all about. It is a tad graphic, perhaps disturbing, and maybe grabs you in a way that elicits some discomfort. However, please be assured that the intentions of the images are to be motivating and positive, even if from a bit of an altered perspective.
The images, in fact, and the related ideas that stem from it, are inspired from a woman’s story. Her name is Dawn and she’ll continue the story in her words below:
Looks negative, doesn’t it? At first glance, it kind of makes me shiver a bit as well. I mean there’s no hiding the fact that there’s a rope suspended from the ceiling and what appears to be a knife. Not just a steak or butter knife, or something to file your nails, but a full-fledged butcher knife! Yes, very pretty. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then serene, idyllic, scenic, wholesome words probably would not make it into the list of thousand words that are in your mind right now. But I do hope that you’ll be willing to reconsider by the end of my story, or maybe pause for thought while going through the experiences of this blog.
So, let’s get right to it and not avoid the obvious suicide scene evident in the cover picture. Yes, admittedly, I do have reoccurring thoughts revolving around death. I wouldn’t call it a preoccupation, and it’s definitely not something I would seriously consider before my due date, but I definitely think about it. To be honest, who hasn’t? Who hasn’t at one time or another thought about how they would like to die and, when that time eventually has to come, the kind of circumstances and context that would be involved in the scene.
During my university years, I did not have to work very hard to imagine such a scenario, as it was explicitly given to me in a creative art assignment. The project involved creating a still-life arrangement of objects, drawings, and images that centered around the theme of death, and enabled our own interpretations and spins on the ‘momento mori’ artistic genre. I naturally had an affinity for this kind of work and allowed my mind to wander freely at the possibilities. What resulted was a more detailed painting of the photograph you see on the cover of this blog.
I decided to ask myself: “If it had been decided that my time was up, or if I were to go through the steps in role-playing a suicide in order to learn artistically from it, how would I do it? What would I do? What would I think?” These were the questions that spurred my images and the telling of this story. While the tools of pending death have been set up, let us look closely at the images and I’ll also simultaneously explain what was going on in my mind as I enact the scene.
The character was preparing herself for the end. She thought through carefully, days upon days upon days, and researched all the various means, methods, and weapons to facilitate such an act. She did a pro/con analysis, a cost/benefit analysis, and even attempted a crudely wayward attempt at a factor analysis, just to convince herself that her tuition spent on a psychology statistical course didn’t go to waste. All the various considerations led to more indecisiveness, as she found it impossible to narrow the methods down to one. In a moment of self-reflection, while catching herself smile, she even admitted enjoying these periods of delay as she was already dreading thoughts of the unbearable climax to come.
So, the deliberations continued. And continued. If we look at the picture, we can see that she eliminated the gun as a feasible choice. Her belief was that a gun was much too unforgiving. It was too much like an all of nothing proposition with no middle ground in between. Put the gun against temple; pull the trigger; die. Chances of missing are not high; chances of surviving are very low; the time interval where you can significantly change your mind is extremely short; and your physical reaction time may not be in sync with your mental instructions to STOP!
She put the gun away, but not before retrieving it to consider a game of Russian roulette. That consideration was quickly cast aside when she realized she didn’t want her end to be synonymous with a game of chance. She didn’t want to be on the edge with each potential trigger pull, agonizing in her mind if this would be the one. It was not the state of mind she wanted to be in when leaving this world.
In similar fashion we do not see any evidence of pills, alcohol, or any drug-related equipment in the picture. She was worried how being in an induced state would lead to impulsive action and reduce her ability to change her mind. She surely didn’t want to risk committing an act under the influence that she didn’t really intend to commit at that time. If she was going to leave, she insisted on being clear headed and of rational mind – being herself. No room was left for accidents.
Finally after many years of aging, she thought it was time to set up the next stage. Still undecided, she settled on two instruments to bring with her: a knife and a rope. It would be one of the two. It had to be, but she didn’t know which, and wanted a fall-back plan, and just didn’t want to totally commit.
Then, incredulously, she started laughing in a manner that might be interpreted as insanity or the breaking point for some, but for her it signaled a sudden realization that all her seemingly frustrated efforts and choices were symbolic of her true values, deeper desires, and placed her exactly in a position where she needed and wanted to be. For without this death-like, ‘momento mori’ process, she would have never dug and unearthed this part of her identity.
What was it? She discovered that she chose the rope and the knife to purposely set herself up for failure, making it impossible to reach the final stage. With these instruments, the probability of errors increased greatly. Knowing that she had always been weak at tying knots, enduring a childhood full of instances of tripping over her loose shoe laces, she spent an inordinate amount of time to even muster up a circular shape that perhaps could fit around her neck. Even so, another look at the picture will show that the weak knot, combined with rope more appropriate for skipping, would have a difficult time supporting her weight. There were even rumors that she used duct tape to anchor the rope to the ceiling. The picture is inconclusive on this point, but if you asked her today, you would receive a gift of the sweetest smile you have ever seen in return.
Meanwhile, not to be outdone, the knife may seem menacing, but its story can also be cuddled like a teddy bear. First off, with her reluctant nature of dabbing her toe in to test the waters, she was not likely to cut herself up with one wild, manic swing. By the time she finished prodding, angling, scraping, and nicking, fatigue happily set in and she was busy getting band-aid and Polysporin for what amounted to no more than paper cuts. Again, you wouldn’t be fooled if it appeared that she was having the time of her life.
On top of this, she purposely selected from the kitchen drawer the same butcher knife that her mother used to prepare so many memorable dinners for her. It was the exact same knife that her mother used to try to teach her how to cut a whole chicken into appropriate serving sizes on the dinner table. Mother and daughter laughed together when the younger barely had enough strength and could only timidly push the knife lightly against the chicken, scarcely even penetrating the skin. Needless to say, with memories of her mother in every reflection from the knife, it was rendered useless as a harmful weapon.
Despite her ostensible failure, and probable inability to go through to the end, she was still determined to at least carry it out just a little bit further. She stepped up onto the chair, framed her head within the rope, let out a laugh when thoughts of graduation photos popped in her mind, and even let the rope tickle the lump beneath her chin. It wasn’t funny. Without it being snug and tight, it still caused her pain to swallow; the discomfort was much more mental anguish than physical. She understood that another reason the knife was there was not to kill, but to give her a last second out if she needed it. Not taking any chances, she immediately attempted to cut the rope with the blade. She didn’t have any more success doing this than the chicken she tried to cut in her youth, so she simply removed the rope from around her neck in order to get a better angle and hand position for slicing.
It was hard to imagine seeing anyone more alive and creative than she was at that moment.
I hope that this story, and the images from the cover picture, can motivate you into considering alternative perspectives in how we read, how we write, and how we interpret.
Please enjoy this blog, the writing, and ponder what stories you can discover when reflecting upon your very own procrastinations.