"He thinks it's the greatest day because he, like, stole an ice cream truck."
"Yeah, that's cool. If I stole one of those, I'd, like, go out to the desert and I'd just, like, start eating all the rocket pops and the
chocolate chippity crunches and--and the dreamcicles, yeah, and the nutty buddies!"
"Shut up, Beavis."
Today Is The Greatest Day I've Ever Known
Today marks one year to the day since my own Greatest Day. I sat in a chair for time untold, utterly paralyzed, and watched my mind looping on itself, stuck in patterns. I watched it happen, but that part of me that could still watch objectively couldn't break me out of it, and the pain was literally almost unbearable.
I began to consider various plans of leaving. If I got far enough away, would things be better? I saw myself on the other side of the mountains, in the desert, at the edge of a canyon. Surely in a place like that, I imagined, I could find one way or another to bring the pain to an end.
Can't Live For Tomorrow, Tomorrow's Much Too Long
Somehow I got myself into the bathtub, and I lay unmoving in the hot water, and I watched my mind and I watched my breath and there I discovered that no single moment couldn't be breathed through, so long as I could keep my attention close enough. Every time my attention stretched into imagining day after day of this feeling, despair would rise up again.
But attention has a way of wavering, and so I let myself look forward to the end of the day. Can I breathe through it? Yes, I found. I can breathe until I go to sleep tonight. So I built a wall at the end of the current day and would not let myself look over. If I kept breathing, I discovered, I could make it through today.
In the song he says, "Can't live for tomorrow, tomorrow's much too long."
I don't know that that realization would have been enough. Looking ahead, seeing pain of this magnitude, I finally truly understood why someone would choose to end it all. I understood what "unbearable" really means.
Part of the pain was the anticipation of pain. But how long would my resolve have lasted in the face of day after day of it? How long could I go with building walls at the end of days?
I Wanted More Than Life Could Ever Grant Me
Later, I was at a concert. I'd gone to hear a classical pianist perform an all-Rachmaninoff program. In the program notes, I read a story I had once known but had forgotten: his First Symphony was brutally panned at its premiere, and afterwards Rachmaninoff had fallen into a deep depression. It took several years and the help of what we'd now call a therapist to get him to compose again.
There is a way, sometimes, that in times of crisis the world gives us exactly what we need. I do not know if the answers are always there and that we merely need to look hard enough to see them, or if it's that in times of desperation there is some providential force that watches out for us gives us exactly what we need. Perhaps these are one and the same. No matter. I saw in Rachmaninoff's story my exact situation. Rachmaninoff had poured everything, literally everything, into the creation of his symphony, and when it failed he had nothing left over to right himself. I too had poured everything into things outside of me, and when they hadn't worked I had had nothing left.
Would that have perhaps been enough, just knowing, seeing how I got there? Perhaps. But providence had more for me.
My Angel Wings Are Bruised and Restrained
An EDM artist I wanted to see was performing in town later that night. The show was sold out. A friend of mine worked at the venue, and had told me that if I ever wanted to see a show there, to hit him up, and he'd put me on the list. I had contacted him the day before but never heard back. I decided to go anyway.
I found a parking space right near the venue--probably just dumb luck. always a nice occurrence on a busy Friday night. I remember that as I walked from the car to the venue, I said aloud: "I could really use a little help right now."
SOLD OUT said the signs on the venue doors. No one lingered outside looking to sell a ticket. I went up to the box office and said to the girl inside, "I might be on the list." She asked me my name and the name I'd be under. She scanned the page. "I'm sorry, you're not on here," she said. And then she looked up at me and said, "If you're really a friend of Mikey--he's a really great guy." And she slid a ticket across the counter to me.
I wonder, sometimes, if she felt she was just doing a nice thing for someone, or if on some level she knew that here there was more at stake, that before her was a person who right then really needed a little help.
My gratitude to her will ever endure.
And then things began, really, to flow. I was no sooner in the venue than I ran into three people that I'd just met the week before. We recognized each other and I asked if they'd mind if I spent the evening with them. So all of the sudden I wasn't just seeing the show, I had people to share the evening with. And the music was wonderful, and the crowd was delighted, and my energy began to flow again, and I knew, really knew, that I'd be okay, more than okay, that indeed in some way I'd be okay forever after, because that's what a Greatest Day is.
Nov 8, 2013: The Greatest Day I've ever known.