I am taking a moment to remember two people, one I knew all my life, and one a hero I never met or knew until today. We’ll talk about the new one now and the old one later, perhaps in a few days.
It’s irrelevant to name, or say much specifically about, the recent suicide of this NFL Superbowl champion who’s note insisted on leaving his brain to be studied for a debilitating disease called C.T.E. ( Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) It’s a progressive disabling disease he thought he had contracted from his high impact years on the gridiron. I see that the New York Times reports that his son said of his father: “My dad’s not a second-guess type of guy,”… “If he makes up his mind, it’s on, baby. There’s no looking back.”
Perhaps it is this last comment that tells us much more than the note he left. It explains much about why he was a winning athlete. As a defensive lineman, he fought many brutal battles and no doubt won his share. But he also lost many other battles both on and off the field. Just like the rest of us, right?
His suicide by a chest wound that did not, in the end, destroy his brain, tells us that he was very, very concerned about what he feared might be happening. It seems he believed that this was an attack he could not defend against; that this disease was what was driving him to end it. But let’s ” look the matter in the eye ” as some men would say.
We’ll never know how or why these things happen every day across America until we have the courage to look deeper into our own popular ambitions. Not to find any answer but the truth. Not to disrespect the tremendous heart of our football hero, but to find the underlying sources of his and our, driving need for Success.
We need not look away when this prospect to understand something really important presents itself. At least, some of us actually want the truth, want to understand really how “Success”, drives and has driven us. To them I say: ” Who knows? But maybe fear has something to do with it? ”
Most psychologists will tell us that it is often our unconscious fears that drive our behavior. In this case, perhaps fear of losing? It really doesn’t matter now… or does it? What matters is that we glimpse in this tragedy not his obvious” despair”, but also perhaps his inability to live without Success. I do not know, nor do I point an accusing finger. Rather, I extend my sympathies, indeed, my love and respect, for all this brave man did and was.
In his final act, perhaps he succeeded in shocking us enough to say ” Friend, what’s goin’ on here? ” And to brave a look deep into our own operating system, our conditioned attitudes that dictate for most of us, an unending need to have, and fear of not having, Success.
Maybe we’re addicted, maybe we’re too juiced with having our sweet success ? And maybe that deeply felt personal insufficiency is our greatest fear? Does our fear of not achieving success – whatever we consider it to be – rest in the fact that we all know we can not always control the things that matter Big Time! to us? That, like Libya’s Gadaffi, we can not always hold our grip on events as they happen. We come out of our popular dreams about being able to control outcomes only when we recognize reality as it is. When that recognition dawns, perhaps life and the living of it, will never be the same?
One thing is for sure: we will never recognize what drives someone to any act until we recognize what drives us in our own actions. That’s what it means for those of us inspired by nonduality living: to ask our Self every day… ” what is going on here?”