In memoriam immortal of MSN, and the genre of ‘adult alternative rock’ with quarter speed scrubbing and Dave Matthews ‘Crash into me’, the best album ever*. *Alongside the rise and fall of Ziggy, and other great albums.
I would like to share some words of a dear friend, and my response, some six years late, to them. Before I continue, I should put a trigger warning for depression, suicide, and caring for those who are depressive and/or suicidal.
The person in question is Dom Lucas, someone I liked greatly from when I met him in my first philosophy class in 6th form. It was apparent at his funeral, that a deep and lasting impression was a response he often evoked, even in those who had counted him only as an acquaintance.
So, here is his ‘rant about life’…
Some in this world seem to cast huge shadows full of interest and spectacular events. It has always seemed that there are a select group of people who fly about making life as poignant as they can almost by accident.
I know full well I am not one of these.
Yes it is my own fault in some round about way, and when I bring this subject up, people ask questions about what it is that I want to do, or what it is I see that makes this breed of person so spectacular. The truth of the matter stems from Pirsigian quality; some have quality in this life and like most I watch them with awe.
I have known for a long long time that I am more than averagely able to observe people and the world around me. It is something of a hidden facet of mine that I see much much more than I like to let on.
But here is what I actually want to bring to your attention, oh league; what is it, in your esteemed opinions, that makes any one life better than another?
Some among you will reply that there is nothing, but I urge you to quell this reaction and consider it before you speak.
What is it that makes one person able to tap a vein of wonder while another drifts in shadows, hunkering to obscurity?
One argument may be talent, some are naturally more gifted at one or another of the great artistic endeavours available to humanity (of which there are many more than could fully be appreciated). But I know of such talented individuals who still feel they pale in comparison to the world around them. And I know of just as many with little appreciable talent that seem to grace this world with a disproportionate measure of the sublime energy of joy or humour.
Is it then a case of attitude? Does one’s outlook to life depict the way one manages to draw more deeply of the ‘pap of life’?
As many of you know I have a bi-polar disorder which often makes my own self judgement harsh and viciously unforgiving (I would argue this is justified), but gives me the opposite when considering others. ( I would ask for my own sake and the sake of your fellow league members that you kindly refrain from the use of personalised examples in any reply.) Many incarnations of the greatness and quality I speak of have similar dispositions, Mozart, William Blake, Issac Newton, Plato, Tim Burton, Vincent Van Gogh, Winston Churchill and a great hero of mine Walt Whitman. (I hope, league, that those of you who I know to have a similar disposition will take comfort from this list.)
But this is far from a definite point over the quality I speak of. I’m sure you are more than capable of populating your own list of those you consider great, with most being free of mental ailments.
Perhaps, for the sake of dwindling relevance and growing confusion, I should refine my question to you.
What does it mean to you to be great? To live a life of quality and achieve the creation of, what I hope you all to some extent strive to create, a thing of beauty or worth [with] which you leave to this world. What is this inimitable drive and ability that touches a wondrous few?
I first read that ‘rant’ some days after I had heard that Dom had killed himself. He’d written it a few weeks before, in a facebook group he created, called ‘the Extra-Ordinary Leaugue of Eccentrics’, which he proposed, similarly to Ronsil, would do what it said on the tin. He declared
“ As an eccentric I feel it is my duty to (in the least invasive manner) live a life that is by no stretch standard, to hold ideas based upon their merrit not fashion, to live by a moral code based entirely upon morallity and not convention, to listen to as much Yo-Yo Ma as Dave Matthews band, to read any book that suits my particular and multiple tastes and to generally not give a monkies if people want to heckle.
In return I hope to one day produce something of value and quality that the world can feel has be[en] touched by the mind and hands of an abnormal yet worthwhile being.
If you feel even mildly similarly, please become a part of this league and create marvellous things for the sheer bloody hell of it all. Or whatever, I’m not pushy…”
I regret deeply that his rallying cry for like-minded souls echoed emptily into the void of facebook, which at the time, I rarely used.
When Dom spiralled into a deep depression by the end of our first term at college, we were close. I tried to support him not to drop out over the break up of a brief and intense relationship from those first weeks, including meeting his college tutor, who I could then not look in the eye for the urge to scream at him when he turned up to Dom’s funeral. But, once Dom had left college, to my sadness, we drifted out of touch. Knowing I might otherwise have contributed to Dom keeping his hope in life is something I keep with me, to keep tags on those I have worthwhile relationships with. Nearly six years on, time to articulate a might – have – been.
If I had read this, when you had just written it,
if we had still been in touch,
we might have exchanged messages for hours,
with my heart being wrenched by the dinging alert
of another justification
of your harsh self-judgement
defending yourself against my insistences
that you do make life poignant
that your hidden facets of insightful observation shine through,
and that I, like so many others,
wanted you as a companion
to unknot the mysteries of the world
and tap those veins of wonder,
and sense the sublime energy around us.
I do not know if you would have heard me.
You loved the pap of life, and that is how I knew you.
When you could not draw on it, it broke me that I could not feed it to you
When I heard you had given up on trying to find a way to live a life of quality, I was not surprised.
You were unreachable in a black pit two years before.
And that autumn you’d started college afresh, and if that did not clear the dark fog . . .
The leaves were crunchy under clear blue skies that autumn.
I believe your sense of beauty was too strong to be blocked out,
and so I stretched my mind to comprehend the magnitude of your despair,
so crushing as to outweigh all your awe and aspirations.
When I let the rain falling down make me feel alive,
I wonder if they did dig your grave shallow,
and if that blanket of earth shut out less
than did your own unforgiving self-judgement.