Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Leif the Social Darwinist?

Sometimes I have odd thoughts that seem to be from Leif. Don't misunderstand me; I don't think Leif is talking to me, but these are fleeting thoughts that are the kinds of things he either did say or might have said, given what I know of him.

This morning I was thinking about him and his death while we were on our daily six-mile bike ride and this thought, which seemed so like him, popped into my mind, "Why are you so concerned about my death? We all have to die sometime. You're going to die. Dad's going to die. It's just a question of when and how. I chose mine."

Of course, that is true, but it avoids the painful question of WHY he chose that death and why THEN.

I continued on in that mental "conversation" and the answer came back, "I was tired of all the shit."

That seems like a poor reason to die to me, but it's the same one another person I know who once found himself with a gun in his hand contemplating suicide said to me about Leif's death, "He didn't really want to die. He just wanted all the shit to be over." This person put the gun away and didn't do it. Leif did.

I have no way of knowing what went on in Leif's mind, whether the thought it out or did it on impulse, whether he thought of us and the impact it would have on us or whether we were far from his thoughts, whether he was sad or angry, defeated or determined. All of those things could be possible.

Leif purported to be a rabid social Darwinist and he often held forth in conversations about conflicts and war with the opinion that you can't stop them and people will fight until one side or the other gets tired of the whole thing or is defeated. Although he knew himself to be far more intelligent than the average person, it was also obvious that he was not able to make life work to his expectations and although he tried very hard to pursue happiness, only at rare and brief times did he really succeed. So then the thought comes to me, was it, at least to him if not to us, what he considered a rational choice? Why bother with life if it was going to be misery without purpose?

Yet Leif, for all his blustering about social Darwinism, was compassionate and I don't think he could have hurt or killed any of the unfortunate beings he railed against. He never did. He was the only person he pulled one of his many triggers against.

Yes, we are all going to die, but why is it that for most of us life is precious and we struggle to hang onto it at nearly all costs, and to others it is a burden to be discarded?

This is another of the photos Leif took of himself on Thanksgiving 2007.

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