100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself #40.

I’ve been doing my best (mostly) to dissuade you, my fellow humans, from taking your own lives but let’s assume for a moment that my skills don’t really extend beyond packing a luggage cart like a boss while extracting a sizable gratuity from a guest’s wallet.

In other words, what if I fail?

Let’s say you’ve just can’t take it anymore; you’re too much in this world and it’s time to take matters into your own hands. That’s all well and good but what about the possibility of consequences of an eternal nature? 

#38: What If There’s A Hell?

I’m not a religious man though I have spent some years attending services at various churches intermittently, but I have to believe there’s a higher power at work in the universe. That said, the last few years have led me to the inescapable conclusion that God’s pretty much a dick.

He constantly beats us down with his weather wrath, but He doesn’t unleash enough of it to balance the world out by evening up the population. He allows the Kardashians to continue to exist and procreate. Our elected (apparently) leaders are out of control. The bees are going extinct. Dogs and cats really are living in sin. It’s the mass hysteria that Bill Murray predicted we’d experience decades ago. Of course, all that may be our own doing but I’m blaming the Big Guy instead.

So if an All-Mighty Creator exists, it stands to reason that an Infernal Soul does as well, right?

 

Sadly, I doubt Satan resembles Elizabeth Hurley in any way…

And if the Devil is real then so is his domain, where, if every priest, nun, and other religious zealot I’ve ever met is right, your eternal soul will face eternal judgement. Now, I don’t know about you, but I refuse to take a chance on eternal damnation, even if the source is suspect to say the least. I mean, sure, the modern-day church has its share of PR problems, but the stakes are too high to roll the dice.

That said, do I believe for a second that my friend’s soul is writhing in agony since he left this world of his own accord? Hell no. My friend is and always will be one of the kindest, most genuine souls I’ve ever been blessed enough to know, and he’s in a warm place all right: A Heavenly version of his beloved Aruba not the pits of damnation.

But you may not be so lucky.

None of us are without sin, it’s true, but most of those sins are bush league when placed in the big picture. However, when you combine those sins with the supposed “crime” of suicide, you’re stacking the deck against yourself. Sure, these days most religious figures will tell you that Heaven is still an option if you take your own life – but that’s only because many of them are so messed up they don’t want to acknowledge Hell’s existence at all, since they’re likely to wind up there.

So the long and short of it is this: No one really knows what lies beyond the veil so why take the chance? It may suck most of the time but life here on the mortal plane beats some dude with a pitchfork stabbing you endlessly while you’re forced to watch every press conference Sarah Sanders ever gave on an eternal loop.

Stay in school alive, kids.

See you in the lobby, friends…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself #41.

We’re told pretty much from the nanosecond we complete our violent escape from the womb to do unto others as we’d want done to us and all that jazz, which is all well and good, but sometimes we need to indulge our mischievous side in an attempt to stave off the darkness that threatens to swallow us whole.

In other words, sometimes it’s actually healthy to channel a little Leary.

#41: Being An Asshole.

Up to a certain point in my life I was a choirboy (minus the priest diddling, of course) and so I always played by the rules society laid out for me. I was respectful, calm mannered, even-tempered, and ever-reluctant to speak up when confronted by bullies.

Then I acquired a job as a bellman at the Comfort Inn in Niagara Falls.

It was over two decades ago and the world was a different place: people were nicer to one another in public (privately they still talked all kinds of shit about each other) social media wasn’t a thing so they kept their dirty laundry where it belonged (in bars and post-coital conversations with hookers) and they were less hostile to service personnel.

But that changed in a hurry once I became a bellman, naturally.

It quickly became evident that being my old self was going to lead to my being chewed up and spit out by the hospitality industry in a Niagara Falls minute, so I found a way to develop a persona that was snarky yet respectful and truthful yet close enough in line with the big hotel chain mentality to keep me employed. It took some time but Robert Hookey eventually became The Hook, both in and out of uniform.

Becoming The Hook was the best move I ever made, with the exception of that one move I made with Cynthia Kowalski in elementary school. She had to renounce Judiasm after that move. At any rate, I had to learn to embrace my inner-asshole (which sounds exceptionally weird) in order to survive encounters with:

  • Newlywed brides who have coitus with hotel staff on the hood of their new husband’s car. 
  • Guests who bring their dead frozen cat on vacation with them rather be separated from “Lucky”.
  • Hardcore gamblers and the hookers that love them. For an hour, at least.

And many, many more! I’m not suggesting you become a full-blown jackass who drives slow in the ultra-fast lane and who walks around in the summertime saying, “How about this heat?”, but it never hurt anyone to indulge their naughty nature.

Well, except for Tommy Burnes, a minuscule kid I knew in high school who, after a lifetime of ridicule, decided to fight back against his many oppressors. Unfortunately for Tommy, his plan backfired when the captain of the football team parked in the wrong spot. And so Tommy dropped a sack of dog shit mixed with raw eggs, cut grass and God knows what else on the car of the biggest, blackest high school student in the city of Niagara Falls at the time.

Every once in a while people still find chunks of Tommy in their backyards.

 

I’m not suggesting you invade New York, but channeling the god of mischief won’t kill ya, will it?

Don’t be Tommy but be fearless when it comes to staving off depression. Try to live a full life instead of dying by your own hand.

Joke around with your fellow motorists the next time you’re stuck in traffic; stop beside another car, pull out a metal travel mug marked “driving vodka”, and take a few big swigs.

Cut in line at Wal-Mart.

Cheat on your taxes by declaring the ghost children in your house as dependents. (This tactic has never worked for me, but you never know.)

Direct a guest to park their stereotypical Redneck RV, complete with a deer corpse strapped to the back, outside the kitchen entrance to the hotel’s Denny’s. (This was arguably my greatest asshole move ever.)

Don’t go too far, but accept that not being the best you can be all the time can feel pretty good.

See you in the lobby, A-holes…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself #42.

When Douglas Adams wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in 1978 he not only created an innovative and endlessly-entertaining-but-dry-as-the-Sahara science-fiction story that would be adapted to a variety of formats, he gave us everything we need to survive and thrive on this plane of existence.

And he did it all in one line.

“The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.”

#42: The Number Forty-two.

What’s that? Oh, you want to know what the question is?

Listen, I’m a barely-functioning white male in his Forties (for a few more months, at least), don’t you think I have enough to deal with these days?

 

There are some things a person should figure out for themselves. I mean. I could help you out but how would you learn anything? After all, as my uncle Ray used to say:

“It’s not about the destination, but the number of bar fights and loose women you can get into along the way.”

Yes, the world lost a great philosopher when Ray finally succumbed to syphilis. But his point remains valid decades later: Douglas Adams already did the hard work, now it’s up to you. So get to it, Poindexter!

See you in the lobby, puzzle solvers…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself #43.

As my legion of longtime readers can attest, I am a hardcore Murdochian.

This declaration, of course, inspires two questions for some of you:

  1. Do I really have the nerve to claim I have a “legion” of followers?
  2. What in the name of all that is still considered holy in this world is a Murdochian?

To which I can only reply:

  1. While 24 years of marriage have pretty much whupped all the nerve out of me, I still have an ounce left.
  2. Seriously?

#43: Murdoch Mysteries.

And Murdochians are almost as passionate – and filled with moxie – as Earpers.

 

According to the CBC (Canada’s national television and radio broadcaster, generously funded by my tax dollars, whether I like it or not) website:

Set in Toronto at the dawn of the 20th century, Murdoch Mysteries is a one-hour drama series that explores the intriguing world of William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson), a methodical and dashing detective who pioneers innovative forensic techniques to solve some of the city’s most gruesome murders.

Murdoch’s circle of associates includes Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris, Hatching, Matching and Dispatching), Murdoch’s eager and often naïve right-hand man; Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig, Coronation Street), Murdoch’s skeptical yet reluctantly supportive boss; and the love of his life, pathologist-turned-psychiatrist Dr. Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy, Durham County), a staunch ally who shares the detective’s fascination with forensic science and innovative ideas. All are valuable allies who help Murdoch solve his varied cases and traverse the many stratums of Victorian-turned-Edwardian society.

Yeah, I have no idea what “stratums” are either, but to suggest Murdoch Mysteries is just a “TV show” in my house is to suggest the Trumps are a slightly-dysfunctional presidential family. In my home this innovative Canadian drama truly is something worth living for.

Literally.

My late father-in-law (I hate the applying the term “late” to the deceased but it’s societal convention so peer pressure wins again) John “Jack” Fisher lived with us for the last five years of his life after his emphysema became too much to deal with alone. And so he packed a bag and made the momentous trek – next door to our house. Yes, I lived Everybody Loves Raymond, and yes, there were times that it was as nutty as you’d expect.

But it also gave me a stronger sense of family than I’ve ever known. Jack, like most people facing a inevitable medical condition, came to view television as much more than a “boob tube”. It became his window to the world. Between the newspaper I’d bring him from work every day (shh) and TV, Jack’s world shrunk considerably. This was a man who got up and went to work every day of his life since he was 14 and then he became exhausted after getting washed up in the morning.

And so programs like Murdoch Mysteries became something for Jack to look forward to each day. He couldn’t wait to see what modern-day device Detective Murdoch was going to invent (the dashing Canadian sleuth invented, but never took credit for, everything from Scotch tape to the lie detector) while unraveling a crime most foul.

Fortunately, MM is on multiple times a day in Canada – and someone in the family was always there to enjoy it with Jack. He became an MM super fan (a”Murdochian”) and came to regard MM star Yannick Bisson and his co-stars as family. Indeed, these people got my father-in-law through the toughest – and last – period in his life. I hope we all have a program/band/film that we can all rely upon to lift our spirits at times.

This interview with Yannick Bisson perfectly illustrates his program’s strengths and it’s effect on viewers all over the world. Yannick makes a reference to everything I’ve been shoving down your collective throat discussing at the 9:30 mark. I’ve met a few MM cast members in my role as a Niagara Falls bellman (and through social media) and they’ve been as decent, as human, as I could ever want them to be.

 

I have one last thing to say about this amazing program: When my mother was dying of bone cancer I reached out to a specific MM actor. This person’s identity is irrelevant; their privacy is worth respecting, but even though they were clearly exhausted at the end of a long day they filmed a short-but-touching-beyond-words video message to my mother that raised her up at the end of her life.

That’s not the hallmark of an exceptional actor, that’s the hallmark of a phenomenal human being.

I could say more but I don’t feel like it.

See you in the lobby, friends and fellow Murdochians…

 

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself #44.

When the incomparable B.B. King sang “The Thrill Is Gone” he was lamenting the loss of a love, not a life, but the latter certainly applies.

Remove the thrill from anything, whether it be an affair, a career, certainly a  marriage, and it becomes not only mind-numbing but a burden we soon tire of carrying.

So how exactly does one put the thrill back into an existence? Bare knuckles street fighting against twelve hobos simultaneously? Chicken wrangling – Rocky style? Competitive blindfolded underwater basket weaving in an electrified pool? 

 

That works too…

The thrill of choice will depend entirely on your personal preferences (and tolerance for pain) and background. And yes, I realize I’m being general here; each of the reasons for living we’ve already covered can be considered a “thrill”, but a post doesn’t have to be long to be entertaining, right? I’ve made a similar argument to my wife hundreds of times and it didn’t fly with her either…

It’s important to acknowledge that becoming an adrenaline junkie can be perceived as a form of suicide but moderation is the key to everything, folks. Find something, anything, that gets that ole ticker of yours racing and embrace it. (Unless it’s your neighbor’s wife, of course) All you need is something to open your eyes to life’s beauty and to remind you that you only get one shot (that we know of) to live a full life.

See you in the lobby, friends…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself #45.

If visiting the dentist is one of your reasons for living then today’s topic will really light your fire.

Or to be more accurate, it will really make your dentist happy – eventually. But that’s the future. This series is all about living for the moment and enjoying the little things that can make today so worthwhile. And what helps us savor the moment more than…

#45: Candy!

Between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, (so before my time but not Kris Jenner’s) the Persians (the ones known for their carpets) followed by the Greeks (the ones known for smashing plates) discovered the people in India and their “reeds that produce honey without bees”. They stole adopted and then spread sugar and sugarcane agriculture. Pieces of sugar were produced by boiling sugarcane juice in ancient India and consumed as Khanda, dubbed as the original candy and the etymology of the word. (Learning is fun, kids!)

Before the Industrial Revolution, candy was often considered a form of medicine, either used to calm the digestive system or cool a sore throat. In the 1830s the candy store became a staple of the child of the American working class. Penny candies epitomized this transformation and became the first material good that children spent their own money on. For this reason, candy store-owners relied almost entirely on the business of children to keep them running. (I told you learning was fun, What, did you think I was lying?)

I’ll never forget being a kid and being dragged along accompanying my mother and grandmother to our local Sears store for hours of mind-numbing shopping. Fortunately, Sears had a massive candy counter with four sides that was strategically placed in the center of the first floor so there was no way shoppers were avoiding that sucker. It was a candy trap of the highest and most devious order.

 

Let the stroke commence…

Sears Canada is gone now; the victim of corporate greed and amateurish management, but fortunately for me the memories have outlasted my cavities. And I still enjoy an occasional bite or two of candy.

Sure, too much candy will rot your teeth and make you a footless diabetic, but too much of anything (yes, even coitus) will kill you eventually, so why not relive some fond childhood memories associated with whichever candy speaks to you and savor the moment? Literally.

After all, clinging to and enjoying the little things can keep you alive for one more day and that day can make all the difference in the world.

See you in the lobby, friends…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself #46.

It has charms to soothe a savage breast, or so I’ve been told. (I try to avoid savage breasts whenever possible.)

It’s been emitted from a car radio, a stereo, or even a store’s muzak system while many of us were conceived. (Don’t judge those whose parental units hooked up in a store’s change rooms; it happens.)

It can move us to tears or lift our spirits in a few notes or lyrics.

It’s been declared the “Devil’s creation” by one group while being referred to as the “cat’s pajamas” by another – as they groped each other in the spacious backseat of a Buick.

It speaks to us in various languages and a multitude of styles without actually speaking. The spoken word of William Shatner being the obvious exception, of course.

#46: Music.

At the onset of mankind music began as a series of grunts combined with the rhythmic banging of a tree branch or a large bone on a simplistic drum (a large skull, perhaps?) and led to such early caveman hits like:

“Fire… Hot!”

“The Wheel, What Is It Good For? (Seriously, Does Anyone Know?)”

“She’s Mine. (Because I Hit Her Over The Head With My Club.)”

“Secret Agent (Cave) Man.”

What? You don’t know if I’m wrong. You weren’t there, were you?

In the beginning of his career John Lennon used music to achieve fame and fortune with “the lads from Liverpool” and then he began to truly ponder the lyrics he was writing and most importantly, their impact on the world around him. And so one of the greatest songs ever written, “Imagine”, came to life in an attempt to show us what the world could be… If only we were willing to unleash our minds.

 

Protest songs. Love ballads. Symphonies (that stir the depths of your soul). Musical theater creations. War declarations. Music can be used for any purpose the aforementioned imagination can conceive.

Music has been described as an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time, but it means something different to each of us. Rockin’ Ronnie lived to perform onstage, his bass cradled lovingly in his weathered hands, his devotion to his band mates immeasurable, his sheer joy at being there uplifting to behold.

But while we played his favorite tunes at his funeral, Ronnie’s song has ended.

Except it hasn’t.

A song never really ends; it can be replayed forever.

Every day I walk to work shrouded in darkness, the music from my phone my only companion. Ronnie lives on in the songs I listen to as I make my way across the empty streets of Niagara. I picture his smile. His signature, “Yeah, yeah, yeah” accompanies the sounds in my ears. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I laugh and smile. (The laughter scares skunks and stray cats and keeps them off my path so it actually serves a valuable purpose.) But I’m always moved by the music.

 

Every damn day, Ronnie…

One could use a billion words and never do music justice. Just do me a favor and think back to some of the most significant days of your life and try to remember the music playing in the background as you spoke vows, welcomed your child into the world or said goodbye to a loved one for the last time. Even if it’s the cacophony of sounds from the city or just your home, music is everywhere and it’s certainly worth living for.

See you in the lobby, friends and music lovers…

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