Death & Judgment:The Art Of Suicide
My death started at a grocery store.
“Get back to work, Adam.” My voice was calm but the rage behind it was too strong to hide.
I was a grad from the gifted program. I made sixty bucks an hour straight outta high-school. So, how did I end up stuck running a grocery dept.? My recent promotion didn’t seem to be helping.
Days before yelling at Adam, I’d thought things were good. My co-workers liked me and I was good at being everything to everyone. I loved to overgive, so I was used to being popular everywhere. I moved up ranks at the store quickly, and got put in charge, making me the ‘full-timer’ everyone loved.
At least until I realized people only liked me when I was ‘on their side’, and after correcting Adam, I instantly became an enemy in the part-timer’s eyes, even though I’d helped him so much when we were ‘equals.’
My ego rocked. It was quite an eye-opener for a kid who was used to earning love by pleasing people.
I retreated to the back office and checked my e-mail, only to find that my girlfriend was cancelling plans on me yet again. She assumed I’d be fine with it, and I figured she’d start hating me like my part-timers if I wasn’t cool with her usual last minute change.
Sitting on the bus going home, my temples were pounding and I could hear blood rushing loud in my ears.
How did I get here?
I seethed with judgment. I was Judgy McJudgerson. I judged everything.
I judged my crappy job.
I judged my sham relationship.
I judged my siblings who didn’t get me.
I was an egotistical, entitled smartass, but that wasn’t the main problem. The main problem was that I judged myself, my lack of success, my whole life.
Like, I was always ‘the good son’, but only ’cause I thought that’s what ‘society’ wanted.
Straight A’s. Never a fight. Never a cuss-word. No drugs, no sex, etc.
Plus I aimed to be better. I fantasized being a vital, high-impact, celeb-level success-story, ’cause I thought that’s what brought love.
And getting hated on by grocery-staff who I was supervising was not part of the plan, and I judged myself for it.
But I’ve always been big on solutions…
So that night I quit my job & dumped my girlfriend.
And it felt so blissfully good to quit. It was a tiny taste of freedom, but life still felt hard.
So, I read lots of spiritual books, from Osho, to Walsch, to Hicks and more. A whole lot. Tons. They helped me internally, but my life didn’t seem to improve. Everywhere I turned, I ran into more failure and hardship.
I mean, I was never happy in the many jobs I held in my teens, so I promised myself I’d never go back to that.
And I was confident that I was a gifted genius and I assumed I’d easily succeed. I judged myself as better than average.
So, with no training, no mentors, and almost total business ignorance, I decided to found my own business.
I had no idea what kind of hardscrabble life I was jumping into.
I failed a business a year, for a decade.
I’d failed more businesses than most people ever started, but the experience helped me later on ’cause I’d learned a lot about branding, identity, marketing and more.
Anyway, the best (and most painful) part was that it made me realize I wasn’t nearly as smart as I thought.
Humbling, and the pain didn’t stop there.
During these years, I found and lost multiple girlfriends – and I judged both them and my own failure.
I hired and fired staff and partners – often resentfully.
I drifted from my family, was arrested, evicted, and ran my life-coaching business while homeless on the streets for the better part of three years.
And it was ‘super-secret-ninja-style’ homeless. I hid it well. My friends and family didn’t know. More importantly, my clients didn’t know. I carried myself with dignity. I refused to pan-handle. I learned to ‘fast’ and survive on no sleep or shelter. I had standards and a creative hygiene regimen, but I was living out of a bag, and my most valuable possession was my laptop.
I kept my homelessness hidden.
But then I was robbed.
My pack was stolen. I lost all I owned but the clothes on my back. Not something I’d really wanna go public with.
But I put judgment aside and posted publicly on my blog, for strangers to help, donate, and rescue me.
And they did!
A few core friends (Jen, Jay, Adam), relatives (aunts, cousins, and parents abroad) helped me out, but one of the most humbling things was having ‘strangers’ donate to help me get back on my feet.
This got me a new laptop and pack. And while I was grateful for what they did, I felt like nobody else could understand or offer advice which would get me out of my pathetic pit. I was still broke, isolated and super alone.
I believed in myself and my talents, but it seemed no one else did, at least not enough to reward my value properly.
I wasn’t dead of starvation or frozen to death but those didn’t feel far off. Nobody deserves that kind of existence. It wasn’t really a life, or a living.
I’d quit my job and ditched my girl, and look where I’d ended up… living a life I judged as a even more of a failure than when I’d started.
The latter three years spent struggling to scratch out a living ran against everything I’d been told, and everything I believed about my own value, results, and intelligence.
And one night, crying in a closed mall bathroom where I’d hidden, snot running down my face, I realized that…
I’d tried to do everything society said led to success. I did way more than anyone could’ve asked of a human being, I hadn’t had a vacation, a rest, or true stability for a third of my age, and my life was a total disaster.
So I said ‘fuck it.’
I gave up.
I stopped judging my abysmal failure, and embraced it.
I accepted that all the things I loved, and was great at doing, would likely never be rewarded or appreciated well during my lifetime. Sure, I could help people in high-leverage, intimately powerful ways, but apparently not enough to earn a living.
I saw myself as Vincent Van Gogh, a genius artist ahead of his time, but died poor and unknown.
Society doesn't teach that it's OK to be Van Gogh.
It’s ok to be a failure, a minor impact, and seen as mediocre during your lifetime.
It’s not ideal, but life’s a mystery, and even the brightest among us may end up there.
It’s ok to stop trying, to give up, to surrender. Honest! No judgment 🙂
Realizing that was an a-ha moment for me.
I figured there was no point in dragging the failure out, so I may as well help it along.
I started planning my suicide.
And once I did that, I felt energized. Something it seemed like I could actually succeed at, ending my ‘worthless’ existence!
But, I have high standards.
I wanted my suicide to be refined.
Even after all my torment, I still had leftover judge-iness, and I wanted my suicide to be ‘art.’
I wanted it to be brilliant, fueled by deep insight, and a cut-above what else is out there.
Jump in front of a subway? Please. Too messy, and may not even work since trains slow way down before arriving now. I can do better.
Gun in the mouth? Bah. Sourcing one sounds tricky for a broke, homeless dude, and again, messy. Need something better.
How about poison? Noooow we’re getting somewhere, but pill overdoses fail aaaaallll the time, and then I’d just feel worse than when I started.
So it was time to step it up, I started researching deeper.
I discovered Exit International & Dr. Nitschke. I explored The Dignitas Institute in Switzerland. I found really accomplished peeps who do suicide right. And I found a source to get lethal doses of professional suicide-drug ‘pentobarbital.’
It cost $400, and I could live resourcefully for a month on that, which meant I’d have to choose between a month more of homeless life or ending it all.
I decided to end it, so I saved up the amount (harder than you might think) and then I realized I needed an address to ship the drug to.
I had no belongings, no ID, no shelter, no address, and couldn’t even get a P.O. Box., and if I told a friend I wanted to ship an illegal suicide drug to their door, I saw that going poorly.
God I wanted it so bad I could taste it, but my plans, yet again, weren’t working out.
I laughed, realizing I was a failure at suicide, too.
At least, I couldn’t kill myself the way I wanted, the way I imagined.
So now what?
Well, I decided to do nothing.
‘Doing nothing’, like failure and suicide, was another topic I judged back then.
My life had been filled with a lot of society-driven ‘doing’, and this was the first time I’d ever let myself off that grind.
I laid in a park for huge periods of time, inspired to do nothing, work on nothing, attempt nothing. I was what the pre-suicide me would’ve labelled ‘uselessly unproductive.’
To break the monotony of laying in the sun, occasionally, I’d go to a library and answer questions on some entrepreneur forums.
Which lead to an extremely bizarre series of events.
To start, I randomly threw away my last $10.
Actually I *gave* it away. The entrepreneur forums were run by Evan Carmichael, and he was hosting a fundraiser to help a Toronto cafe, and because of my contribution to the forums, I was invited.
So I used my last ten dollars to donate. Why not? I’d given up. I didn’t intend to lift a finger to grasp for yet another client, I was just gonna lay in a park and starve, or maybe compromise and settle for a quick, messy end by jumping off a building.
I got to Little Nicky’s cafe, where I met some Toronto entrepreneurs, and Evan.
He and I became friends and began working together on his already successful brand and business. That meeting led to him becoming my flagship client and an epic collaborator.
He appreciated me, believed in me, and made sure I was rewarded for it. He helped me get the #ryze business model off the ground. Helping him gave me stability, traction, and growth. One day, wretched, the next, miraculously saved.
My salvation came from doing nothing.
More specifically, it came from embracing doing nothing.
When I was trying to get my biz off the ground, make money, be productive, yadda yadda yadda – somehow things like ‘loving myself’ and ‘give myself a break’ and ‘just do nothing’ weren’t options.
I had to make my business work, right? I didn’t want to be <gasp> ‘lazy.’ I assumed society would judge me and hate me –hell, I judged myself!
Years of struggle later, doing nothing was my only option.
It took failing to pull off an artful suicide, to make me realize that judgment brings pain.
Judging suicide didn’t help me. Judging laziness didn’t help me. Judging failure didn’t help me. My salvation came from embracing myself when I ‘foolishly’ gave away my last ten bucks on a whim.
Embracing my inability to do anything, even killing myself, led to peace, comfort, and ease.
I lay on the grass, breathed, loved myself, and knew I’d done all I could.
I stopped trying ‘do’ something to solve the chaos. I stopped trying to prove my value. I realized that I’m valuable even as a failure. I’m valuable even with zero results. I am valuable even if I can’t control anything.
Human beings are valuable for existing, no matter what choices we make, and to choose death, for me, didn’t feel ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ or ‘a cop-out’.
Society judges suicide, but I don't.
Moving toward suicide felt like ‘relief’ from a world where I was unwanted, worthless, and unappreciated.
And for some of the seven billion people on our planet, marching towards that relief may be a vital part of their story.
Having the choice to end our lives is empowering.
Yes, it breaks my heart that anyone considers suicide, and I don’t want anyone to feel the way I did… but I do wanna see loving, judgment-free support if someone expresses a desire for self-death.
Putting away judgment can feel scary, but it may lead to something great.
Quitting my grocery job, followed by years of entrepreneurial failure, moved me to explore suicide, and through that, I was reborn.
I believe suicide can be helpful.
Whether thinking about it, or acting on it, I believe suicide is a valid choice. People are powerful, and deserve the freedom and authority to decide to leave a world that doesn’t serve them any more.
Kurt Cobain did it, Angelina Jolie tried & failed, as did I.
I believe an ‘early’ death is totally ok, if your heart guides you to it. Follow your heart no matter what, completely free of judgment, but don’t be surprised if life rescues you at the last second, re-energizes you, & keeps you around to impact others in divinely fulfilling ways.
I mean, wow, I ended up consiglieri to empire-builders!
I became abundantly appreciated as a sounding board, trusted advisor and a truth-teller who helps peeps ryze, but I wouldn’t have arrived here without discovering myself through exploring suicide.
Suicide taught me the definition of success.
True success is living on your own terms, doing what you want, when you want, how you want, regardless of results — dying included.