This project started out as an idea for a book way back in September 2008 when mentally and emotionally I was in a dark place but trying to achieve escape velocity. I thought I yearned for self-destruction, but now I realize what I really wanted was rebirth. I was inspired by a dear friend who finds a touch of humor in everything, no matter how seemingly impossible the circumstances and who has shown me that laughing in the dark brings the light, or at least makes it bearable.
The book was to be titled 100 Things to do Before you Kill Yourself and here is the original intro: The intention of this book is not to mock or make light of the suffering of those in despair, those who hear angry, hateful voices in their heads, and those who have come to that point where they cannot bear to go on. The reasons are many: lost love, illness, pain, feeling like a burden, depression and other mental illness, loneliness, lack of direction, or the world may have just lost its glow. So you’ve reached rock bottom, congratulations. As trite as it may sound, there is no where to go but up, and if you have reached the point of being ready to end it all, then it doesn’t matter what you do from here, right? So this is where these experiments come in. It may seem silly, but if you can even crack one smile – you are not down for the count yet. My intention is to whistle in the dark, to laugh and spit a loogie into the abyss, to smile in the face of fear and face down the devil himself. When at the edge, the brink, the tipping point, well, why the hell not? Why not learn to laugh at oneself, at life, to become someone else, to shock the senses and sensibilities and remind oneself that you exist. See into your suffering, the suffering of others, to scream out the darkness, and maybe see the flickering of the light at the end of the tunnel. Why not throw caution and common sense to the winds – not to put oneself or others in harm's way, but to give it one last go. For every person who has gritted their teeth and said, “Just one more day…” and tried to find a reason to make it to the end of that day, for every person who felt stifled by fear and self-loathing until they felt undeserving to exist, to every lost soul who thinks, “Surely there must be SOMETHING…” – this book is dedicated. Sometimes you just need someone to shake you and say, “What the hell are you doing?” (At least I do!) I have been on occasion at a dark intersection and found that if nothing else, I need to distract myself long enough to decide to give it one more go. I swear my intentions are good – to find that little grain of something worth one more day, one more season, one more lifetime in each of us.
In the course of working on this, another good friend, J, became intrigued by my idea and asked to co-write with me. Through the course of a year and a half we threw ideas back and forth and generally had quite a bit of fun. J had some questions about my motivation but decided it was a project he could devote himself to. Here is his intro: The title of this book has been the cause of much concern, including my own. However if indeed you truly think you want to kill yourself, then you need to get professional help. If you’ve had ‘scary thoughts’, then you probably need help with your anxiety. This book is made for all those people who aren’t dead and all those who aren’t living. ”Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death” - Auntie Mame. Now put down that turkey leg and turn the page…
As things in life tend to go, over the course of time, the project changed somewhat and J decided to leave for other projects. Generously, he gave me permission to use his ideas (which are each credited) and I am very grateful because he is one of my most creative, interesting friends, with very unique ideas. I decided on a blog rather than a book to be able to include multi-media art.
Whistling by Candlelight as a title seemed much more positive and interesting than just putting off killing yourself. Stop-gap measures, no matter how entertaining, are not meant for long-term planning and life is a consistent endeavor. This is now more about the idea of finding that little light that helps your feet find the path and why not have fun along the way? We all need help to smile once in a while – I know I have!