Emptiness, Anxiety, Despair, And Self-Destructive Behavior

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MV Conversation

Empty Self

Future Time

“You were old to start a family,” said MV.

“Yeah, you could say that. At thirty-seven I was old, but not too old,” I replied. “It was good, though; it was all good, even the bad.”

“And the bad?” MV responded.

“There were communication problems,” I said, “always communication problems, but then, with me, those problems were unavoidable anyway.”

“The best part was family?”

“Yes, that was the best,” I replied. “Going through childbirth with your wife was a once in a lifetime experience. It was the start of a whole new life for me; and, as for the baby, they didn’t come any cuter than my daughter. Three years later, our son arrived. My wife and I were overjoyed, and we both wanted more children, especially for the kid’s sake, but in terms of economics, it just didn’t make sense.”

“Everything changed after the kids were born, right?” MV responded.

“Well, not exactly. Change never comes easy. Old habits die hard,” I replied. “I still needed the mental stimulation of a classroom, so I took a creative writing course thinking that it would help with my communication skills. It was fun, but I don’t think it helped much.

“But you kept trying?”

“Yes, at least for a while,” I said. “One of my professors, the one who seemed most receptive to my ideas, offered a religion class that compared and contrasted issues in science and religion. I jumped at the chance to take it.”

“And you were disappointed?”

“Not at all,” I replied. “I began the class with a new life perspective. My daughter was two years old and my son was on his way to being born. In the final paper, I chose to focus on the negative aspects of my metaphysic, or that aspect which elicited, in some people at least, self-destructive behavior, or even suicidal behavior. I hoped my children would never need that kind of council, but one never knows.”

“So what is it? What makes a person self-destruct?” responded MV.

“That’s a good question and one that can’t be easily answered,” I replied. “Let me put it this way: If you get too close to a cosmic black hole, you get sucked in and crushed; likewise, in the here and now, if you get too close to the ‘nothingness of self,’ hopelessness and despair are never far behind. The sad part is that the sensitive and creative among us are drawn to this ‘center’ in order to mine its energy and inspiration. Growing up in the ‘60’s counter culture, I found self-destructive behavior everywhere. It was especially concentrated in the artist community. Song lyrics, especially the song lyrics of that period, testify to the tensions, emptiness, and desperation produced by too much self-searching. Back then most of the artists survived, but, tragically, some didn’t. Succumbing to self-destructive behavior is a terrible way to die because that death is avoidable. Certainly timing is important, but when cries of help are answered with words of kindness, care, and love, lives are saved not lost.”

“Surely, you jest,” said MV. “Show me a person who’s children are starving; show me an athlete with no legs, or even a romantic distraught over a love affair gone sour and I’ll show you adversity that can kill. However, becoming suicidal over a lost ‘self’—well that’s just vulgar.”

“I don’t expect you to understand. I mean the question, ‘Who am I?’ doesn’t even exist for you,” I replied. “And speaking of vulgar, what the hell do you know about romance?”

“What you know about romance I know,” replied MV. “Learning about romance is as easy as dropping a few coins in the juke box, or watching on the big screen the latest Hollywood ‘hunk’ romancing any number of hotties. But, once you’re past your prime, or lacking in persuasion skills, romance is not so easy. Loosing your big squeeze can be a traumatic experience indeed!”

“I don’t believe you’re playing with a full deck MV,” I said. “When you break up with a lover it’s not like loosing your ‘big squeeze.’ The difference between what you call love and the ‘real thing’ is what’s really tragic here; being between ‘squeezes’ may be traumatic, but it doesn’t compare to loosing—via irreconcilable differences or death, a loved one. After a stormy love affair, or the death of a loved one, all that is left is painful overwhelming emptiness, and, for the more sensitive one’s among us, or those who are able to ask but not answer the question, ‘Who am I?’, that same kind of emptiness is their reward. For those who travel down that path of identity induced anxiety, despair, and possibly oblivion, self-destructive behavior is inevitable. So, to keep our discussion from degenerating into mere name calling, what say you and I look at some of those song lyrics and let them speak for themselves?”

“Okay, but answer me this,” huffed MV, “How can the song lyric speak for the lyricist when the lyricist doesn’t even know who he or she is?”

“No comment!”

Jefferson Airplane: The House At Pooneil Corners

You and me,

we keep walkin around

and we see,

all the bullshit around us.

You try to keep your mind on what’s

goin down.

Can’t help but see the

rhinoceros around us.

Then you wonder what we can be

and you do what you can

to get balled

and high.

Simon and Garfunkel: Sounds Of Silence

And in the naked light I saw

10,000 people maybe more,

people talking without speaking,

people hearing without listening,

people writing songs that voices never share.

No one dared

disturb the sound of silence.

Bob Dylan: Mr. Tambourine Man

Take me disappear-in

down the smoke rings of my mind,

through the foggy ruins of time,

down past the frightened leaves

and the lifeless frozen trees,

way down to the windy beach,

far from the twisted reach

of crazy sorrow.

Jim Morrison: Riders on the storm

Riders on the storm

Riders on the storm

into this house were born

into this world were thrown

like a dog without a bone

an actor out alone.

Paul Stookey: No Other Name

Some girls will die for money,

some will die as they’re born,

some will swear they died for love,

some die every morn.

I’ll die alone,

away form my home,

nobody knows where I came.

The stone at my head will say I am dead.

It knows me by no other name.

Janis Ian: Lonely One

There been times,

moments when I

didn’t really feel like crying.

There been times,

I knew that I would do better

by sighing,


Sometimes I think it’s easy to fall,

and then I remember words: Kid you gotta be tall.

My time, your time,

time of the mind.

You cant have it

cause I don’t want it.

If you want it,

you can’t have it. I can’t take it,

I’m falling,

I’m calling,


please, please,

help me.

Please, help me.

Peter Yarrow: The Great Mandella

Tell the jailor

not to bother

with his meal

of bread and water today.

He is fasting, till the killing’s over.

He’s a martyr;

he thinks he’s a profit,

but he’s a coward,

he’s just playing a game.

He can’t do it; he can’t change it,

its been goin on for 10,000 years.

Take your place on the

Great Mandella,

as it moves through your brief moment of time.

Win or loose now,

you must choose now,

and if you loose you’re only

loosing your life.

“I don’t get it. Angry, sad, and sadder, that’s all I see in those lyrics,” MV responded.

“I’m not surprised. You never did pick up on nuance very well,” I replied. “Just take my word for it. It’s there—a specific emotional center— the one that inspired those very lyrics.”

To be continued…


One Response to “Emptiness, Anxiety, Despair, And Self-Destructive Behavior”

  1. Kel Says:

    Very interesting Dave. Self-awareness is such a high priority in my life. When one does not have self-awareness I believe the get lost in the acres of people, wondering which path they are to take, only not understand exactly where each path is and where it leads.

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