I was 21 years old, just out of my first marriage (which lasted all of three months) and despondent to the point that I wanted to commit suicide. My mind was made up. I would kill myself.
But, first, I had to get the mail.
I was working at my family's recording studio, and it was a lackluster, boring day, with no bands scheduled, and way too much time for me to think about what a loser I was, and how my life was a waste.
I got the mail, went back into the studio, called my Mom and told her about my despair. She told me to hold on, and she would call me back, which she did within minutes. "Go next door. I've called the neighbor. She's a psychotherapist. She will greet you at the gate and let you in. I will pay for the therapy."
I obliged, and went next door to meet the most wonderful 60-something woman, with sparking blue eyes, a bounce in her step, and a warm and embracing hug. I burst into tears, and after we sat down I poured my heart out to her, and told her of my determination to kill myself.
She smiled wistfully and said, "I once wanted to kill myself, too. I even attempted to follow through with it."
This caught my full attention. I was eager to know why. She told me that she had spent the majority of her life in a marriage in which she raised her husband's six children. She was the only mother they had ever known. Their mother wanted nothing to do with them. When they were all grown up and on their own, her husband left her. Although she was fully bonded to the children, they wanted nothing to do with her.
She said she decided she would kill herself, and researched the best way to do it. "Icy water," she said, "That's the quickest and most promising way." So, she sold her property, all of her possessions, and booked a cruise to Alaska, where she was determined to throw herself overboard into the icy waters.
Then she laughed a beautiful hearty laugh, slapped her knee and said, "But, when I got there, it was so breathtakingly beautiful, and so relaxing! I realized that I didn't need to kill myself. What I really needed was a vacation!"
I laughed along with her, and was amazed by the poignancy of her story.
Many years later, when I was feeling despondent, my Dad asked me, "Summy, when the waters get rough, what does the Captain of a ship do?" Perplexed, I shrugged and said, "I dunno." He smiled and said, "He sails his very best!"
As a child, and then as a teenager, when I used to play in the waves of the Pacific ocean, sometimes the waves would get the best of me. I quickly learned that it was better to surrender to their movement, and ride them back to shore, rather than fight the natural current.
Now, when life gets rough, I realize I have options.
Take a vacation. Sail my very best. Surrender to the current.
Whatever I choose to do, it's all about taking a plunge deeper into myself.