Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I am still in reflective mode today. I went to the funeral yesterday. I did not feel any comfort from the ceremony. I had moments of meditation before the ceremony, just sitting quietly and listening to my own breathing. I felt comfort when I left the church and walked outside into the sunlight, looked up at the blue sky, and said my thanks to God for helping me through the day.

I was still pondering the nature of the quick and the dead when I went to the meeting last night. I like this meeting. I like the variety of people there and what I hear from them. Some of what I hear is wickedly funny, some is sad, some is perplexing, but I come away with something real and to ponder. I was glad to be alive. I wanted to hug a bunch of my fellows and say to them, "We are the fortunates who have been given a chance to work on recovery. That is something to be thankful for."

But I didn't do that. I shook hands and kept my thoughts to myself. At the ice cream "meeting after the meeting", some friends and I talked about our sail boats, books we are reading and some other light stuff. It wasn't until we were leaving that I mentioned to a friend about the death, the funeral and the "whys".

When I got home, I listened to my wife tell me that the meeting, which the deceased used to attend, was filled with those who were angry about the suicide. They were also asking the "why" question. I don't think that there is an answer to "why?". He may have lost his spirituality, he may have lost his mind, he may have lost money in the all may be true. I don't need to ponder the question any longer.

So I am letting that go. And tonight I'm going to go rowing in the harbor on a clear and cold evening. Every stroke of the oar will remind me that I am alive. The following is one of my favorite poems and says it best:

If you put your hands on this oar with me,
they will never harm another, and they will come to find
they hold everything you want.

If you put your hands on this oar with me, they would no longer
lift anything to your
mouth that might wound your precious land –
that sacred earth that is your body.

If you put your soul against this oar with me,
the power that made the universe will enter your sinew
from a source not outside your limbs, but from a holy realm
that lives in us.

Exuberant is existence, time a husk.
When the moment cracks open, ecstasy leaps out and devours space;
love goes mad with the blessings, like my words give.

Why lay yourself on the torturer’s rack of the past and the future?
The mind that tries to shape tomorrow beyond its capacities
will find no rest.

Be kind to yourself, dear – to our innocent follies.
Forget any sounds or touch you knew that did not help you dance.
You will come to see that all evolves us.

~ Rumi ~


  1. I imagine there are many reasons why people take their life. I also think there are ways of commiting suicide that are not so overt--reckless driving, drugs, thrill seeking activities. I'm thinking of a "death wish", but it is not labeled a suicide.

  2. So sad that often after a suicide, those left behind must focus on the Why? It is difficult to understand why death is better than life, yet we cannot "see" the suffering inside the human mind.

    I love the poem.. so tranquil and relaxing. Good post, Syd :)

  3. Maybe the reflections give a sense of purpose to that which seems so senseless and selfish - I don't know either but I do appreciate your sharing here.

    Blessings and aloha...

  4. I have always been perplexed by suicide but there are many things I don't understand and many more I choose not to put forth the effort to understand.

    For me, death is. Not about something, not for something it just is. My father died of cancer over 27 years ago and I get chastised by my mother for not visiting his grave. I guess it is her generation or something. I choose not to try and understand his death and why I only got 27 years with him. I just see it as part of life. I got 27 years of his wisdom and I guess that was all I was to get and that was enough. Some thing there are no answers there just, is.

    Celebrate your friends life by allowing him to live within you. That is where my father continues to have life.

  5. God I love Rumi. Thanks for sharing that poem.
    great post. I prefer not to get caught up in everyones drama about things either. life is too short. I see funerals as an opportunity for service, but I havent been to a suicide one, so perhaps they are more heavy going..

  6. It's so had not to question though isn't it but I understand we mustn't dwell on is very destructive. Thank you, you've really got me thinking once again as your posts always do.

  7. The fact that you say you are glad to be alive is healthy and that is all you can take care of: You. I know you know that from reading your blog.

  8. What a gorgeous poem. Thank you. The only comfort I find when confronted with suicide is in the pure pleasures of raw life - good books, good music, good food, good friends. All seem louder and sweeter in the contrast.

  9. I learned a long time ago, it's ok not to know the why. Otherwise it boils over into questions there may not be any answers to. And if you did know the why, what would it change? Someone is still missing out on life and we in our humanity could never, ever make sense of it.

    I've been on both sides of the equation - the one left behind and the suicidal. Still even I have no answers. Tend to your heart dear friend, feel life for you still appreciate yours. (Hugs)Indigo

  10. thank you, this Rumi poem made me cry, thank you for the humanness.

  11. what a beautiful post and beautiful poem. rumi has just a way of describing the indescribable.

    just for today, my hands are on the oars

  12. For reasons not clear, I am a little 'blue' tonight. I want to understand why, but I just don't know.

    Thank you for the poem. It helped. For now, I will just grab hold of that oar, stay focused, and row, row, row.


  13. it seems to that when someone takes their own life it seems to be better that the personel hell they are going through.I know the few times I tried that it was the case for me.each time I made an attempt God was there saying No to is not your time yet.

  14. Oh, Syd, your words say so much about the kind of person you are. I guess people will always ask why and be angry when someone takes their life :(

    Beautiful poem, I love Rumi.

  15. We *are* the fortunates, huh. Thanks for the poem...I love Rumi. Have you ever heard Father Tom W share? He is a "dual member" and does a lot of great Alanon speaking. he shares from Rumi often.

  16. Sometimes it's just best not to know the whys. Let the dead rest in peace. Nothing can bring them back to life. None of us really know the extent of human suffering. It is great, to be sure.

  17. Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there's a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see. --Helen Keller

  18. When I worked on my mother's suicide in therapy, I came to understand why it makes us so angry. Suicide is a kind of murder and leaves others without closure or answers, leaves those who loved the person with great feelings of guilt and anger. It takes time to work through this.

    Love the Rumi poem.

  19. Syd, thank you for posting that poem. I wish I had a place to row. We have a sailboat that needs tender loving care at the moment, she's so beautful when she is clean. Unfotunately, the boat is 60 miles away. Spring is around the corner. Thanks for your blog.

  20. Every time someone dies now I hear my sponsors words when I was dealing with my aunt's death. That they are now travelling the road at the speed of Light. They've gone full time and the experience, memories and their addition to the light will only serve to create more Power for you to tap and be directed in.

  21. that's a beautiful poem. very comforting.

  22. These instances make me realize over and over how little we really know of another person. I do not view suicide as sinful but as the only option that some feel they have. So sad.

  23. Syd, the poem of Rumi's is beautiful. I also know you have not turned your heart away from the friend, just the senselessness. I don't know still... if death is not supposed to be a choice. It is one of those things that I, for better or worse, put in God's hands. But I cannot judge another for being unable to do the same.

  24. Rumi is such an awesome poet. This line jumped out at me:
    "Forget any sounds or touch you knew that did not help you dance."
    There is another famous quote that states: "Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it." I think we need to learn our lessons from the experiences we walk through, and then move into today, leaving behind the sorrows and facing today with a desire to dance. There is no satisfactory answer to the why of suicide. We must learn from it to love others while they are with us, and to spread encouragement wherever we go.

  25. A neighbor I grew up with and was like a brother to me committed suicide about 10 years ago. He was the absolute last person you would have thought would ever do that.

    I was searching for answers, and the philosopher Osho told one of his students, who had lost a husband to suicide, that it is senseless to search for a why regarding suicide, due to the fact that the person who commits suicide is not in a rational state of mind when committing the act. Osho said that, therefore, you could never understand why it happened rationally. That gave me some strange form of comfort, and I stopped beating myself to death over it mentally.

    I hope this helps you, also. Your response to appreciate your own life is a good one.

    Love you, Syd.

  26. "Why lay yourself on the torturer’s rack of the past and the future?"



  27. Thank you, Syd, for the breath of air I found in visiting you today.

    I'm taking the poem with me.


Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.