Everybody is killing themselves. In the last decade, the suicide rate for middle-aged white women rose 60 percent; in the developed world, suicide became the leading cause of death for people aged 15-49.
No one really knows why suicide isn’t the domain of sad sack genius types anymore – but there’s plenty of guesses .We don’t understand how technology has isolated us, goes one. There’s no spiritual realm in our communities anymore, goes another. Despite the fact that so many more people are shooting themselves in the face, it’s still considered a taboo, and because no one wants to talk about it, no answers are being found. I had a guess that the Mind Body Spirit Festival at the Melbourne Convention center would try to offer some alternate paths to living our lives today.
Billed as Australia’s largest “health, wellbeing and natural therapies” event, it pretty much exists to stop us from feeling so sad that everything is so incredibly fucked up. Booth after booth offered solutions to our contemporary problems, but the answers weren’t all that different from plopping down in front of your TV or burning through your paycheque on ASOS. The premise was the same – throw a couple of hundred bucks at the dude selling you alkaline water, a photograph of your aura, or Papa Eclipse the Psychic All-star, and you’d be a-ok.
I popped into a seminar to learn how to access my past lives, because doing that would lead me to the douchebag who’s causing all my current problems. Stuart Armstrong led a room full of the suicide demographic — middle aged, gentle, forlorn looking women — into what he called his “Fancy Dress Shop” experiment: imagine you’re in a dress shop and put on the dress that most attracts you. When you look at yourself in the mirror, it won’t be you as you are currently wearing the dress, but a past self. From this launch pad you could apparently excavate all the hang-ups this asshole left you with and find all the answers to your contemporary troubles.
I had a wicked caffeine headache and couldn’t stop thinking about the concert I was going to that night, so I didn’t quite get there. But I thought rather than relying on my lame ass meditating skills, I’d next get some direct information from Jesus Christ himself, via a “downloaded dream interpretation.”
Jules and Jess at the Christocentric Light booth were doling out the interpretations. A smiley dude named Sam sat me down and I filled them in on a dream I had two years ago: I was walking around an abandoned city, lost, stumbling, and looking for something. Jules immediately blasted me with some real talk — I had a hole in my heart, I was spiritually empty, I’m inauthentic and not the person I want to be, and none of the relationships around me were real. That was it. There was no sales pitch. She didn’t try to hook me into their group, or offer any further services, or any solutions, she just left me hanging in this weird nihilistic abyss. I was bummed out. Was I going to leave wanting to kill myself?
As I was walking around I realized no one offered treatment on the spot. The Indian dude that offered to unclog the drainages I kept my entire childhood trauma in wanted a couple hundred to get started. My dad, also an Indian dude, always told me nothing good ever came for free, but I don’t have a couple of spare hundreds and “unclogging your drainages” sounds like a fancy way of saying “you’ll shit yourself” so I passed. The Last World Empire wanted to guide me through the end of times and offered a seminar called, “Armageddon – How will it be for you?” World of Islam wrote my name in Arabic and gave me some DVDs and the Salvation Army offered me a Prophetic Prayer service but I wasn’t sure what to pray for. WorkSafe Victoria gave me some practical advice. They told me I drank too much and need to eat more vegetables.
I really just wanted to sit down with someone and tell them how I get bummed out sometimes, because, you know, life, but that wasn’t a service offered.
Just when I was ready to slink into a beer filled corner, I saw someone that I thought I knew massaging a brunette head between his legs, or something that looked like that anyway. I looked again and realized that I didn’t actually know him – but he still looked incredibly familiar. I kept staring at him, because I’m a jerk I guess, and when he finally noticed and made eye contact with me, his eyes snapped away instantly. Fuck! It was Ricky Williams — international pothead and ex NFL player famous for turning his back on millions of dollars of contract money because all he ever wanted to do was hang out and access alternate consciousness via a lot of joints and pretty beaches.
Why couldn’t I just be like him? To give up millions of bucks and the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders, you have to be pretty sure the other path is paved in gold. Ricky was just chilling at a half empty festival in Melbourne, crazy past behind him, not looking like he was worried about a single thing. He had flamed out of his career publically and famously, but right now he just looked like Buddha went body building for a few months. He was apparently there to sell something called the Bars, but again, I don’t have a couple of hundred kicking around to learn how to chill out, so I just sort of settled for weirdly staring at him. I don’t know if it worked, but realizing you could find yourself in the sort of hole he had and make it out, happy, smiling, hot brunette in your lap, made me think that with a little luck it could turn out alright.
Follow Adnan on Twitter: @whotookadnan
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