Recently, a friend and I were discussing the time in someone’s life when he or she looks at his or her life and says, “I’ve been doing it wrong. It’s time to stop doing it wrong.” I call this time the Moment of Clarity. He, somewhat more ominously, calls this the Event Horizon. The more I think about it, I think maybe his term is a little more apt.
A moment of clarity sounds like some easy thing that happens where deer and bunnies fly out of your ass and your life is suddenly better. An event horizon is a boundary around a black hole. As in “you’re either going to do something BIG, or you’re headed into that black hole over there.” I’m not saying that having deer and bunnies flying out of your ass sounds pleasant (the hooves!). I’m just saying that the black hole makes more sense. Why?
Because huge life changes are usually brought on by something terrible happening. Very few people have said to themselves, “my life is awesome…let me change everything.”
The event horizon brings on all kinds of change, depending on whatever it is in your life that needs changing. Some people decide to stop drinking. Some people decide to finally pick a major. Some people realize that they’re living in a cage of fear and get sick of themselves and decide to start living, not that I’d know anything about that.
I bring this up today because this day 3 years ago was my event horizon. It sounds very simple to say “my friend killed himself.” It sounds like “this week on a very special ‘Blossom.'” It’s more graphic and truthful to say that someone I loved dearly died alone and sad in a tiny apartment in Los Angeles. The sheer insult of that. It’s egotistical to think that I should have been able to do something, but it made me crazy that I couldn’t even help clean out said apartment. All I could do was drag what was left of me to a church in Rivergate, hug his mom and do some seriously epic public crying. Three years later, it still burns. I still want to kick him in the face for it.
Alas, today is not about that. Today is about learning from that. I realized a lot of things all at once:
“You are emotionally unavailable.”
“You are wasting your life worrying about stupid things.”
“You are spending your entire life working.”
It’s all very predictable to realize that whole thing about life being too short after someone dies, but you know. Take it how you can get it. The point of death, aside from clearing up population real estate, is to remind us not to waste time.
One of my biggest fears was to really love someone and then lose them. When it happened, I heard it coming in slow motion. The week of phone calls. The car wreck I couldn’t stop. The begging. I saw a friend the day after it happened and I must have looked like hell; she just stood there having no idea what to do with me. I looked like hell for weeks. It became a sick game. Scare the guy at the gas station. Scare the checker at Kroger. When I wasn’t crying, I had pretty clearly just been. It was like everybody else on Earth was doing their thing and I was in my own little plexiglass box, watching. For months, I had dreams about seeing him, digging him up and bringing him home. In dreams, I went to 20 different funerals. I saw his mother cry 20 different ways. I was metaphorically on the ground, bleeding and wondering whether to bother getting up.
What got me up was knowing that he’d expect me to. When dad died a couple years later, what got me up was thinking “this is not what your father raised. Get your ass up.”
I accidentally performed an overhaul. Not everything worked out. I made a lot of mistakes. I continue to make a lot of mistakes, but I’d rather make those mistakes than sit in my house playing Soul Calibur. Sitting around playing Soul Calibur is easy, but it doesn’t make for a very good life story.
Diah taught me a lot of things. While I wish he’d stuck around longer, those last things he taught me were huge, necessary and life-changing. If heaven exists, he’s there. My dad is probably trying to teach him to play Euchre.
That’s how it is with event horizons: you have to lose big to win big..and you only win big if you get off the ground.