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Googling upbeat

June 15, 2010

It’s taken me two weeks to come up with a post. First, there was the new puppy, who needed to learn not to chew on the dishwasher and not to shit behind the couch. (As I write, he is trying to dig his way out of his crate. Quite the wonder dog I have here.) Then there was work, where I found out that I my contract would not be renewed. From the social committee. Because they needed a date for my going away party. Sleep deprivation. Missing my daughter’s concert for a job where they are ready to celebrate my unemployment. More sleep deprivation.  And then my girlfriend broke my heart for the third time this year.

Sucking relentlessly, my life could easily have inspired a point for the Apocalypse. I wouldn’t have had to look very far. The BP spill. A Fox-style “news” network set to launch here in Canada. Economic collapse. Earthquakes. Mudslides. Damned plastic horns at the World Cup. There is never a shortage of news that reflects my mood.

But then I would be a hypocrite. My job is to train therapists in suicide prevention and the core of what I teach them is how to inspire hope. So I decided to google upbeat and focus on reasons to love Humanity. Here are three of my favourite examples:

  • A 17-year study published in Pediatrics demonstrates that “daughters and sons of lesbian mothers were rated significantly higher in social, school/academic, and total competence and significantly lower in social problems, rule-breaking, aggressive, and externalizing problem behavior than their age-matched counterparts in Achenbach’s normative sample of American youth.” (Heterosexual readers, I am here for you. Just leave your parenting questions in the comment section and I will help you raise Achenbach’s normative sample. Because it’s not your fault you are straight.)
  • Barry Callebaut of the Chocolate Academy (it does too exist) has discovered that eating chocolate can make you look younger. Seriously. This is SCIENCE, people. Just don’t go to the Chocolate Academy homepage because it has a picture of Barry sculpting what looks like a standing poo-turkey.
  • The Graceliners, Canada’s all-female troupe of Elvis impersonators who headline at the Night of 100 Elvises. Or just the fact that there is an event called Night of 100 Elvises.

But the point for Humanity goes to Don Ritchie, an 84 year-old Australian who has personally saved 160 people from suicide. For fifty years, he has lived across from “the Gap”, where at least one person a week jumps to his death. He’s not a therapist or an expert in any way, and he probably doesn’t know any of the content of my workshop on suicide prevention. But he looks out the window every morning and when he sees someone too close to the edge, someone alone, he goes over there and strikes up a conversation, inviting them back to his place for tea. Not all of them have taken him up on the offer, and some have jumped literally from his grasp, but he has never given up. When asked about the location of his home, he says it’s blessing because he and his wife can help so many people. It’s hard not to love Humanity when you read something like that.

The Apocalypse: 10.5

Humanity: 10

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5 Comments
  1. Holy cow. Are you serious? See, I’m a bad person because if I were writing that post, I would not have thought to award points for saving folks. I’d have been impressed that so many people try to jump and that this poor man probably can’t even finish a cup of coffee without having to go outside and talk someone down. I award an extra point for humanity because you managed to find the good in the story.

    • For me, the point was obvious. But then my job is suicide prevention training and I spend my days with therapists who invest most of their energy in finding their clients unhelpable. If I had the budget, I would fly this guy in for workshops.

  2. Sweet bejeebers, woman, that’s a rough two weeks! I hope things have eased up a bit by now. (If there’s any venting that needs to be done, I’m a willing ear, btw.)

    That’s an amazing story about Mr. Ritchie – it’s good to know there are people like him, and most definitely, like YOU, in the world.

  3. Thank you. You are wonderful and sweet, as usual. I think I have passed into the “That which did not kill me made me stronger” phase. As soon as I regain perspective, I will once again ackowledge that I have no real problems. As our Aunt Becky would point out, there are always those people with no feet.

    • Aww, quit trying to make me blush. 😉 I know that phase well – it, along with denial, and some red wine and chocolate, helps my perspective find its way back home. Glad that you’re holding up and that your feet are still intact.

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