The Woodpecker at the End of the World

(Originally posted on my old blog in March, 2011)

I wrote the goodbye note and left it on my desk in my bedroom, for my family to find. I was sorry… for everything… for my failures of the past and the pain I was inflicting on them with my impending suicide.

As had been a pattern in my life, I found the breakdown of close relationships excruciatingly difficult… and this woman… I believed she was the elusive one – the love of my life, my soulmate…

Before we met, physically, we had talked on the phone every night, wrote long, rambling emails filled with hope and unguarded expressions of affection. I eventually moved down the country to be closer to her, and we’d share long nights full of laughter and love-making… well, I was making love… she just used to shout a lot, but that was still quite nice!

Losing her felt like the greatest tragedy of all the tragedies I had filled my life with – and perhaps the sting of sorrow was even more acute because she looked a lot like Princess Leia, and we never did get round to the gold bikini thing. She’d promised me… it was just another betrayal.

I walked out of my house, at dawn, with a ligature made from knotted, plastic refuse sacks and headed off to the woods I used to explore and play in, as a child, in carefree days when girls had germs and they smelled.

Venturing deep and far out of sight of the path, I settled myself down behind a large tree and readied myself, ligature in hand. I looped it and made a slipknot.

I couldn’t see for tears and my shoulders were shaking from sobbing, but my teeth were clenched and I didn’t make much noise.

I felt worthless… abandoned… unloved and unlovable. I looked back on my life and – from my teenage years, onward – saw nothing but chaos, misery, error after error that I never learnt from, all wrapped up in crippling depression.

I wanted it to end. I wanted to leave. I just wanted peace.

There’s nothing cowardly about suicide, and there’s nothing brave. When you reach that point, it’s the end of the world…

… the mental pressure is overwhelming… you can’t see a way out… you can’t find a reason to want to see a way out…

I didn’t go into the woods because I wanted saved. There was no more crying for help. I just wanted to be over.

Lost in my dark thoughts, I put the ligature around my neck and closed my eyes, ready to pull it tight.

Then I heard a tapping… the rapid hammering of a woodpecker against one of the trees in the wood. I opened my eyes and while I listened, the early-morning Sun shone on my face through the branches. There was such warmth from it, against my skin, after sitting there in the cold Spring dawn.

I was enthralled by the noise of the bird, all of a sudden. There would be periods of hammering, then quiet, and then the hammering would begin again from another area of the woods.

I’d stopped crying. I’d stopped reflecting on those dark thoughts. Though I still had that make-shift noose around my neck, the urge to destroy myself had left.

I don’t know much about woodpeckers, but I knew it was banging its head against the tree. I imagined, when it fell silent, it had had enough at trying at that particular trunk and simply moved on to another. Maybe it was feeding, but I pictured it looking for a surface giving enough to peck a home in.

There was a lesson there.

And I smiled… listening intently, with the Sun shining on my face…

I didn’t realise it then, but I had been dragged into the moment… into an exquisite peace where all my thoughts vanished and I was just being – and by listening, watching and feeling, I saw the beauty of my surroundings, and of life.

It felt like someone or something was telling me that it wasn’t my time to leave.

I went home.

That was about four years ago. There were still many mistakes to be made before my awakening, last February… but that was my first recollection of experiencing the bliss of present awareness.

I know, now, that I wasn’t in love with that woman. It wasn’t pure. It was an egoic thirst to feel needed and wanted, and real love doesn’t exist in the mind… it bubbles up from the soul. That’s not to say there was no love there… love – just like the song says – is all around. It would be shared between everyone on this planet, if we just had the clarity to feel it and express it freely.

Love is the strength of being, within, that allows these precious souls to leave your life… and as much as it hurts, you wish from your soul the best for them – except for crap sex, obviously.


(P.S. If this resonated with you and you have the will and ability to contribute the price of a cup of coffee of some meaty yum-yums for my current pride of five beautiful kitties, donations would be most welcome through PayPal, at the following link. Anything would be greatly appreciated!)

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