More than five years ago, the noders of E2 shuddered and trembled, as their world was struck by a double blow. On September 10, 2001, Adam Purcell, the user known as Hermetic, committed suicide. The following day, the tragedy of 9/11 occurred.

At the time, I was a fairly new user, having joined in February of the same year. I had never had much contact with Adam -- the sum of our relationship amounted to his having told me off for something stupid I said in the catbox once. I'd apologized, and that was that.

Still, his death made a great impression upon me. It brought home to me just how much of a vital, vibrant community E2 was (and is). It was also an especially tragic occurrence because the events that followed so closely would surely have been enough to take Adam's mind off his troubles, at least for a while. Like all noders, he was curious, and his curiosity would have kept him glued to the news, no matter what personal troubles he was in. Had he somehow delayed his actions for 24 hours, there's a chance he might have delayed them permanently.

Them's the breaks, though.

Looking back on those days, I wonder what lessons I've learned from them. Perhaps it is that, like the gimmick to flying ("the trick is to aim for the ground and miss", to paraphrase Douglas Adams), suicide can be bypassed by appealing to curiosity. Certainly, there have been times in my life when only my innate curiosity about what tomorrow would bring kept me from killing myself.

One such time is now.

I know what you're thinking, but don't worry, this is not a suicide note. I think.

I am at a time in my life when nearly everything that I relied upon has been removed from me. My financial situation is critical, my relationship with the mother of my children is over, I will be needing a new place to stay soon (and I can't afford anything but the most meager accomodations), my Masters' dissertation has been delayed so long that it seems likely that I will drop out before finishing it. I have a mountain of debts from student loans and other crap.

Worst of all, nearly everyone that I ought to have been able to trust has failed me, to some extent. Some of these failures amount to outright betrayal, and I admit that sometimes, murder has seemed more attractive than suicide.

Sounds paranoid, doesn't it? In such a situation, an intelligent person will question his sanity, and wonder whether these emotions that rack him are not spurious. But they're not. I have every right to feel betrayed.

Fortunately for the world, I am at heart a peaceful person. I don't have it in me to run amok.

So I think of Hermetic. He had bonds that he chose to sever... violently... by turning his anguish inward and killing himself. Everyone agreed that it was tragic and wrong. But depression has its own logic.

I can tell you that on the occasions when I have been closest to suicide, I have felt almost elated. Every sunset, every sunrise, every rainbow or bolt of lightning could be the last one I'd ever see. Being that close to death, and knowing it, is almost comforting in a way. This must be how a condemned man feels before his execution.

Did Hermetic look at the world with eyes that saw every single sparkle of beauty? I don't think he did. In those last moments, he must have been blind to it. If he'd seen even half of what I see on a daily basis, all the little trivial moments of beauty, he'd not have killed himself.

He'd have soldiered on. Because that's what you do. You soldier on, no matter how black your life is. Because in between the seemingly endless misery, there's a child smiling at you, or a glitter of sunlight on a dewdrop, or someone taking five seconds out of their life to say a kind word to you. And you live for those scattered moments of beauty.

And you live.

I have grave misgivings about posting this. I feel sure that it will be almost universally misunderstood. But I feel the need to say it to someone. And E2 is the community that I have belonged to for so long that this seems almost.. appropriate. Please forgive me for burdening you with this. Read it, think about it, but don't let it ruin your own good cheer. I'm still soldiering on.

Addendum: Since I originally wrote this and placed it in my scratch pad, where it languished for several months, unread except for an invited few (and casual bypassers), my situation has worsened. Betrayals have been heaped on betrayals, and hopes have been crushed. However, I stand by the content of the writeup -- and I'm still trying to soldier on. I may fail, but if I do, it will not be for lack of trying.

Having decided to post this, finally, in the node that bears Hermetic's name, I find this piece of text, by Adam's own hand, in the first WU in the node:

I am no longer married. I have three kids, whom I miss dearly.

I am not at all happy.


Yes, Hermetic. I know.

Continues in This is my place, should you want to read on.