Monday, August 26, 2013

Wondering about Martin Manley

I spent some time this past weekend taking a look at Martin Manley's blog.

Manley was a Kansas City sportswriter and sports statistician. He took his own life by firearm on the morning of his 60th birthday, August 15th, 2013. You can read the elaborate suicide blog he spent a year writing at this link. It was originally posted on Yahoo, and Manley paid for it to stay there for five years. Yahoo took it down, after learning of Manley's death. The link above is to a mirror site hosted by the hacktivist group, Anonymous, who felt the content was worth saving. I guess Yahoo feared it would inspire other people to commit suicide.

It won't, I think. But you should read it and decide.

I'm a little upset by Manley's death, not because I knew him (and because I don't follow sports, I didn't even know of him), but because he was, on the day he died, only six days older than I am. Turning 60 was, he felt, the end of his productive life. I understand that aging is not a pretty business; no one wants to end up in a nursing home, though most of us will. And debility and dependence are frightening. But Manley's reason for taking his own life was clearly deeper than insecurity about his future, and reluctance to experience the loss of autonomy that can accompany increasing age:

 "Frankly, I didn’t have any major problem that would cause me to do it. I did it other reasons. I’m sure there are those that suffer terminal illness or financial  calamity or loss of loved ones or serious addictions or fear of going to jail for life or just plain depression. And, I acknowledge any of those reasons might spur them  toward suicide. But, I believe some of us who do it simply have a dark side that doesn’t allow us to appreciate life – or at least extended life - in the same way as others."
-- Martin Manley
                      
It's that "dark side" in the ascendant that I find distressing. Don't I realize that we all have our shadow side, our own personal darkness that is always with us? Of course I do. As a spiritual director, I also know that integrating our shadow side can be a potent source of insight, part of a journey to wholeness. It doesn't have to take over. It's not the whole show, for most people. I know it happens, in cases of mental illness, but Manley does not seem to be ill, at least based on his writing.

So I don't get it. I suppose suicide made sense to Manley, in view of what my colleague referred to this morning as his probable "existential despair." I haven't felt this way (I hope I never do), so I'm in no position to judge. But ... it doesn't add up for me. Read the blog and see what you think.

Martin, rest in peace, brother.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Entering my New Crone Age

Tomorrow I will turn 60. At 9:00 in the morning, I will wake up to cronehood! I plan to spend the day with my husband in Cape May, strolling on the beach (will I be old enough to avoid a beach tag?), wading in the surf, collecting stones and shells for a small cairn in my study, and enjoying a meal by the ocean. I live no more than an hour from the closest beach, but I never seem to get there. That must change!

My mother hated this 60 year milestone. In her mind, turning 60 represented the beginning of the end: encroaching ill health, weakness, depression, isolation. She had seen this happen to her own mother, and she went down the same path. This was a typical path for quite a few of our mothers. For every woman who saw the "golden years" as an opportunity to be free of the workplace or the responsibilities of family and to pursue other interests, I knew as many (or more) in my mom's generation who saw not the interesting features on the road ahead but only the thundercloud at the end.

But many of us live longer now, if we're lucky, and we can choose to engage. A different path can be the choice, if life events permit. I am choosing to be an enthusiastic Crone. In fact, I had even renamed this blog, but then discovered that The Crone Age is also the title of a recent book, so I didn't feel right using it. So Mystical Midget has returned as Mystical Murmurs (which was not yet taken), and will continue to reflect on the funny and sad moments that fill my life, and perhaps yours, too.

And, yes, of course I will bitch and moan with the rest of you in the years ahead. Hopefully the good stops on the spiritual journey will outweigh the bad.

Watch this space. Maidens/mothers/crones, let's go!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Just call me Spud

Chaos, chaos everywhere, and I no longer even drink (to paraphrase Coleridge -- badly).

All my family members are going through transitional times -- all, hopefully, leading to fruitful outcomes, but change is still stressful, especially when it comes all at once, and when you can do nothing to affect any of it except offer support (financial and emotional) and unflagging encouragement.

I feel like the calm eye of a small hurricane. To use a more common, kitchen metaphor,  I am a tiny little potato, bouncing around in the family stew, tossed around by the boil.

Just call me "Spud."

I now understand why some of my friends feel family life is a lot more stressful once the kids are adults. Five or ten years ago, I'd have laughed at that. A friend, the parent of two, said to me recently, "I've been parenting for 42 years! Enough already!"

I think Spud will go to the yoga center and meditate for a good, long while tonight.