“So last week I tried to hang myself on a stretch of land off I–35,” said my friend, who I called my cousin.
“Jesus,” I swore. “Why?”
But I already had an inkling that I knew the answer. My cousin’s story wasn’t very new to me anymore.
“I was tired of feeling like a failure,” he said.
And there it was, the F-word.
I heard him and knew his pains like they were my own. It remains one of my greatest regrets that my scholarly father lived to see his son enter college at an early age but died before he could see him leave at a late one. In my short life I have failed at more projects than I’ve accomplished, and even my accomplishments don’t look like much in retrospect. I work two jobs, one in a tenuous entry-level position, the other as a janitor. I have never had a romantic relationship that lasted over a year, and I drive a beat-up vehicle. Look for a picture of Success online and you will not see the face of Raziq Brown.
I have stared into The Abyss known as Failure and Loss many times. Not only has it stared back, but it has pulled me down into its murky depths just as it did my cousin, several times in fact. I have seen at least one friend claimed by The Pit, know several who are spelunking it by way of various intoxicants, and know a few more who have thrown themselves in, only to be spared by grace in its various forms.
I come from a generation of people who are often called lazy, selfish, and impractical; not unlike those from many generations before. I cringe every time I hear such things. I know there is an entire population of young people literally killing themselves to prove their inherent worth to the world and to become successful by whatever means and in whatever mode they can.
They say my generation expects too much for too little. They say we are children who refuse to grow up.
I think back on my own life, and I know they are wrong.
Would the boy I was approve of the man I am? No, the boy I was would have thrown himself off the nearest bridge just to save himself from future embarrassment. The adolescent I was would have driven the car to get him to the bridge, and the man I was the year following my father’s death would have plied the boy with strong spirits so the fall wouldn’t hurt so bad. But I am not the child I was, the teen I was, nor the man I was then.
I am the man I am now. It is all I can ever be. It’s all any of us can be.