Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Suicide By Tiny Tiny Increments: A Lesson From High Fidelity

High Fidelity, like all of my favorite movies it has a great soundtrack and has little life lessons scattered throughout it.  To be honest I’ve been thinking about writing on this particular scene from the movie for quite some time but haven’t really found the heart to go through it and write my own story around it.

The entire movie is centered on the history of bad romantic relationships and hurtful break-ups, particularly the most recent one, of Rob Gordon (played by John Cusak).  Just under an hour and a half into the movie, after attending the funeral of his ex-girlfriend’s father, Rob is sitting at a bus stop in the rain and says this:

I can see now I never really committed to Laura. I always had one foot out the door and that prevented me from doing a lot of things. Like thinking about my future and…I guess it made more sense to commit to nothing, keep my options open and that’s suicide by tiny, tiny increments.

I have been guilty of suicide by tiny increments on many occasions. I too have committed to nothing and kept my options open only to strangle the opportunities that were right in front of me, waiting for me to seize them.  All too often I turn on the TV instead of reading a book that I know will inspire me.  Countless nights I’ve chosen to have another beer instead of calling a friend to see how they’re doing. I’ve settled for meaningless, unhealthy relationships instead of risking and fighting for romance.  I’ve supplemented fantasy with reality in order to numb the pain of my loneliness.  I haven’t voiced my opinion or shared my emotions, fearing the consequences of being exposed and known. All these things are suicide by tiny increments, safety in familiar, unsatisfying mediocrity.

As a man whose tried to take my life on two separate occasions during my youth this concept is even more harrowing.  When choosing to end life (to whatever degree) seems like a better option than continuing on, something is terribly wrong.

Paul Farmer, in his book Pathologies of Power, uses the formula Observe, Judge, Act when dealing with the issue of inequality in global health care.  The formula has merit here as well. I have observed and know my preferred methods of self-destruction and judged that their existence points to the fact that something has gone terribly wrong and needs to be corrected. That only leaves me to act, to change the state of heart, mind, and body.


Stop. Stop choosing to sacrifice the true me in front of the idols of safety and pleasure. Stop expecting that my only outcome is failure. Stop forcing compliments glance off my hardened heart or dismissing them as ignorance while weaving criticism and deceit into my inner identity. Stop sabotaging myself. In short, stop killing myself daily.

Start. Start choosing to do the things that bring me life to the fullest. Start calling friends and actually caring about their struggles enough to pray for them. Start intentionally writing about things that matter, issues close to my heart, exposing the frightened little boy inside me. Start dreaming again, believing that miracles do happen, even to guys like me.  Start believing I’m actually loved and learning how to love others. START LIVING, LOVING, AND BEING KNOWN.

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