Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Golden Gate


  San Francisco approved a resolution recently to build suicide netting under the Golden Gate Bridge and eventually fencing across the face of the span. In other words when you walk the Gate you'll be looking thru a scrim of metal across one of the greatest vistas on the planet.
  Bullshit. Madness.
  Sound cold?
  It's not the Bridge's fault people kill themselves. It's not our job to redesign every monument, bridge, mountain top, rooftop, cliffside, and seaside to keep someone from killing themselves. They wanna do it they're gonna find a way.
  The world should not be disfigured, cut off and wrapped in netting, so we can make a nod toward these tragedies, because that's all it is, a nod, a gesture to liability, to not wanting to engage with larger problems, to tamping down the fury of broken hearted people while in reality we shuffle off the problem.
  They're crushed. Who wouldn't be? A son, a daughter, a husband, a wife, a child took their life. Someone has to do something. Something has to change. Someone should pay.
  Problem is what that boils down to is as long as anything is changed it's considered something, some good. One platform for suicide is gone.
 Are you kidding? A distraught, deeply depressed person is not going to find another? A fence on a bridge will make them whole again? That's how we do good?
   Nonsense. Childishness.
   "The Bridge of Death" they called it.  What? Is the bridge somehow evil in its design? It entices people to kill themselves? It's Charybdis? It's a witch and one can tell by the cast of its face that it harbors the devil? No sorry, it's just a bridge, made by hand, by thousands and thousands of desperate men and women, during the depression who by dint of their labor created one of the most astounding objects humans have ever imagined.
  And now we get to see thru a fence what they gave us. Inspiration, beauty, strength, astonishment, fear, awe, all of it, covered in netting to put a salve on the horror those who lost someone feel and on the guilt some of us project outwardly from the heart and mind, those parts of us that are truly responsible for all this misery.
  For it is in our stars that the "guilt" lies. It's in us. Not in bridges or rooftops or rafters or in a medicine cabinet. It's in us. And build fences where you may, around the roof of every skyscraper in the country, erase the views, the experiences, which have inspired and comforted generations of people, deny access to the rougher edges of what God built, sue every single person who owned a piece of someplace your beloved died and you'll have accomplished nothing but a kind of institutional vengeance weaker than oaths into the wind.
  The issue here isn't how do we stop them. Fences won't do that. This isn't a question of a view being more important than a person's life. Erasing that view won't save them.
  The heart of all this is silence.
  Because the real horror of death, of suicide in particular, is its silence. Its emptiness. The lack of response. They do not move anymore. They do not speak when spoken to. They won't tell you why.
  That's what's unbearable. But ultimately it's what must be borne.
  You can't reach in after them and make it better. Wrecking the house won't bring them back.
  Perversely, one place you might find an answer, where you might find salve for your broken heart is someplace like that odd orange bridge in the fog, any given morning, 200 feet above the water, as the sun rises. A place like that, or a cliffside in the Grand Canyon, or leaning by the short little railing which is all that stands between you and anyone and the soul shaking beauty of the Niagara, a beauty which stands hand in hand with oblivion. Places like that, left to themselves and you, might bring you peace. They've certainly talked me off the edge.
 Maybe that's what's so hard to bear - the fact that the void you relish and the void you throw yourself into are the same thing. Pretending it's not won't change a thing. Being alive is messed up, we are not simple, simple acts of violence won't fix a thing.


16 comments:

  1. I believe it would be best to prevent people from getting to the point of contemplating suicide in the first place, than to try and prevent them from dying if they do jump.

    There are some places that are popular for suicides, like the forest at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan. They actually send a search party in there every so often to look for bodies.

    What's more concerning is that younger and younger people are committing suicide and most of the time it has to do with bullying.

    What someone believes happens in the afterlife makes a difference as well, not just to the person who is suicidal, but to their loved ones. If you believe in reincarnation, you will see it differently than someone who believes you can go to hell for it.

    The next film I plan to make has to do with youth suicide. I'm hoping to bring more light to the subject. It's one of those things I feel we need to talk about more and try to prevent depression from happening in the first place. At least on the level it's currently at. People are ultimately pretty unhappy. I'm surprised more people don't realize this and want to do something about it. Which in itself makes me less happy. Oh jeez lol. The cycle continues...

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  3. Fear and anger driving action again. Completely understandable, but effective...no. You are right about that. I imagine most of us have lost someone we know to suicide, and it raises a host of feelings that all the cancers and accidents in the world cannot touch. We struggle to comprehend the choice, wondering why we didn't see or why we couldn't stop it and because there are rarely answers to those questions we turn to what we can do. And you're right about it not being the bridges' fault, too. People have jumped, taken that last, fatal step for as long as the bridges have linked one place to another.

    For decades suicides went unreported. Authorities regularly checked the waters, mudflats, sands below and took the sad news to family and friends. Now, with the ability to share knowledge in the hands of almost every single person, this is in the public forum.

    Not so long ago we fenced off our own bridge, here in Melbourne. It is neither iconic, nor magnificent—merely utilitarian, and to be honest it was not suicide that drove this action. Leaping from the Westgate was a sad fact, but pretty much accepted. No, this came from a man, estranged from his wife, who drove onto the bridge and leaving his two sons in the car to watch, threw his daughter into the abyss. The outrage and horror that followed apparently needed somewhere to go and the screening was erected. I get it. If I'd had to witness this insanity I might even applaud it. But it's a blind, a trick of the mind, a false sense of control and there is no end to it. For the desperate or the deranged there is always a way and no amount of fences will ever prevent it.

    A thought provoking post, and I, too, apologise for the length of this comment.

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  4. I've been given the chance to see this amazing bridge in the 90's, and truly, one of the statement from the guide - or whoever this person was - is that the bridge is often used as a place to commit suicide. Sad. Tragic. One last shot of adrenaline together with a beautiful sight and lots of despair.
    Given that jumping from it, or allowing yourself to fall from it, turns the ocean to a wall of bricks... if you survive this, you'll drown... aweful way of dying.
    The beauty of the master piece that this bridge is takes sorrowful color, more than what words could express.
    I will not make a philosophical debate on suicide, it would be too long and this is not the place for it. For sure, the families and friends who are left in this world have to live with excrutiating pains and sorrow, often guilt, and hundreds of questions.

    Mankind tends to take problems in an odd way, to ask inaccurate questions.
    The real question is not how to prevent suicide from happening from a monument, but why people are driven to the act, how to prevent suicide from happening whichever way. Period.
    Guess politicians will keep on taking the problem in a way that shows they are beind active or proactive, finding so called "solutions" that are visible to the voters, band aids really, inappropriate devices.

    Obviously, life isn't a gift for everyone, or turns to something so unbearable that the only solution some are able to see is to have it end.
    A plead for more humanity in daily relationships, especially at work.
    A wish for more kindness in a mad world driven by profitability and forgetting the beauty that's within each one of us.
    A plead for people to have a chance finding a way to happiness.

    Should we have monuments wrapped, let's have it done on an artistic and TEMPORARY way. Ask Christophe to wrap one up with drapes, like he did on other monuments, especially in Paris.
    Put the light on the real problem.

    Oops, how do I end now? Have left my right brain side on the pillow!!!
    Today is July 4th. Memorable date.
    On this side of the world, I've been give the chance to see the sun rise - well yeah, you'd have to be up at 5 am for that but it's worth it - and it's FRIDAY! Delightful... Rays of Sun are illuminating the land beautifully, all the birds are giving an amazing concert, two crows are desperatly trying to break into a house (seriously!)...
    Oh, how I'd love to stay here this morning instead of having to go to an unfriendly cage for many long hours...

    Have a great July 4th and a magnificent show of fireworks.
    Enjoy your day and take good care.
    Yours,
    xxx

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  5. I see this bridge every day. Its disheartening to know that preventative measures, or what some believe are, will change our iconic landmark. 
    Let's be realistic...if someone wants to kill themselves they will. If someone wants to do it in the public eye, they will find another way.    
    I've got an idea! Lets teach people/kids coping skills to better handle what life throws at you. We can start with eliminating participation trophies.  

    -A


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  6. If more people had access to mental health professionals, or, better yet, if families were closer and communicated on a regular basis, there would be less suicides. We live in a cold world, where everyone is out for themselves. I see this particularly in Silicon Valley, where the middle class has disappeared and there's only the very rich and the struggling poor. In fact, just heard that the heroin usage in Silicon Valley is up about 50% from what is was just three years ago. Apparently due to job-related stress. And, David, the bridge is NOT orange but a variant shade of red. Andrea, I agree with you that people are not being taught sufficient coping skills to deal with life's disappointments and heartaches. Perhaps if people had more religion or spirituality in their lives, they would know that God is always there for them, in good times and bad.

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  7. God made us all to serve a purpose and many never seek God to find their purpose. They feel lost and alone. They can't deal with life feeling so out of touch with everything and everyone. Seeking God's face daily gives you clarity and direction.

    I agree, David. The solution isn't a catch net on the world. It starts way before and way deeper. Chaos and confusion isn't of God. The world will never understand this sadly. But in saying that, being the salt and light of this world brings truth and guidance to an otherwise blind existence of mankind.

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  8. Your birthday is the first day of another 365-day journey. Be the shining thread in the beautiful tapestry of the cosmos to make this year be your best ever. Enjoy the trip! Happy Bithday David!! From Portugal

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  9. Je commence à lire ton blog, et je le trouve très intéressant. Je compte lire les autres articles aussi :)

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  10. Have a great birthday David. You deserve it!

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  11. Replies
    1. yes david I want to wish you a very happy and healthy birthday and hope all your wishes come true as we would say in german herzlicher geburtstag

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  12. Happy birthday, handsome! Best wishes always!
    I made a special with pictures of you on my facebook page, everybody loved! Brazil loves you!
    Miss you <3

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  13. Hey, I just wanted to say thanks for recommending the Frick Art & Historical Center to me last night. That definitely wasn't on my to-do list. What a gorgeous place, especially the interior design of the house in the historical context. I went there today, as well as to the Mattress Factory, and my inner art/history geek got a kick out of both of them, even if I had already experienced the James Turrell exhibits at a museum in my hometown last year. You know, what are the odds? The Trace of Memory alone made up for that though. So yeah, thanks again. Wish we could have talked longer, it was such a fun night for a good cause.

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