Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Zo, Larry Norman and Jesus

In the early hours of the morning a message pops up on my screen.


I say Hi and we talk a while.

She is Zo. Though when all you know about someone is the words that they type you may not actually know anything about them.

Early twenties. Unhappy.

She mentions suicide.


Bags of Helium.

I know it’s not easy to know how seriously to take people during online chats. It hard enough face to face sometimes.

But she seems to mean what she is typing.

> takes just a couple of minutes not too painful if at all

> yet there is pain for other people

> my family understand I’ve tried a few times before and in the beginning I was trying to get help

> there would still be great pain

> then to be shut away in hospital again now I just don’t want to be here my family have said they would do anything to get me to stay but they wouldn’t make me stay in a world I couldn’t understand be a part of or be happy in i know I’m going to hurt them but I wouldn’t do it unless I really felt I needed to

> you don’t need to … there are alternatives and choices

> I’ve made my choices I’ve tried everything else over the 8 years I’ve been ill

> there are always other things

> time, therapy, counselling, confidence building courses, family bonding groups, medication, the lot

> at the heart of it all though is you … maybe you just need a way to rediscover yourself somehow

> I know who I am I’m the person who looks in the mirror and sees every bad persons hand that’s ever been on her, the person who has so much sadness in her eyes she’s ashamed of herself, the person who can’t walk past her front door, who is frightened to live, too scared of failure of pain who has medication just to keep her calm because anything scares her now

> I think the person you see in the mirror isn’t you … the real you inside is different than that

> the person inside is hateful, scared, kind yet still sad

>the person inside … deep inside … is beautiful

We talk a while longer.


Zo disconnects.

Today whilst walking at lunchtime I thought of Zo.

I don’t know if she is real. I don’t know if what she said is fact or fiction. But I can live with the possibility of being duped.

Her words remind me of what I wrote of Paulo Coelho just yesterday.

He wrote:

"There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.

This isn’t the whole truth, of course. There are many other things that can make a dream impossible to achieve.

And yet … fear of failure is debilitating. If it even stops the attempt at the dream, then the dream is doomed.

There was a time when my instinct would have been to pray for Zo.

Prayer offers a sense of doing something positive. Of helping.

In my agnostic days prayer no longer is an instinct.

But I did pray … as best I could.

Zo had a lot of questions about life.

And the answers aren’t easy. I’m not so sure exactly what they are.

I thought of my pre-Indigo-Girls, pre-Agnostic, post-Atheist life. My favourite musician of the time was Larry Norman. Christian but unconventional. The words of a song of his that I liked a lot at the time buzzed through my mind.

It’s here:

And the lyrics:

Sipping whiskey from a paper cup,
You drown your sorrows till you can't stand up,
Take a look at what you've done to yourself,
Why don't you put the bottle back on the shelf,
Yellow fingers from your cigarettes,
Your hands are shaking while your body sweats,

Why don't you look into Jesus, He's got the answer.

Gonorrhoea on Valentines Day,
And you're still looking for the perfect lay,
You think rock and roll will set you free,
Honey, you'll be deaf before your thirty three,
Shooting junk till your half insane,
Broken needle in your purple vein,

Why don't you look into Jesus, he's got the answer.

You work all night and then you sleep all day,
You take your money, throw it all away,
You say you're going to be a superstar,
But you've never hung around enough to find out who you really are.

Think back to when you were a child,
Your soul was free, your heart ran wild,
Each day was different, and life was a thrill,
You knew tomorrow would be better still,
Things have changed you're much older now,
If you're unhappy and you don't know how,

Why don't you look into Jesus, He's got the answer

Of course, to think back to when you were a child isn’t a happy thing for some people to do. In the same way that talking about God as being a father doesn’t help everyone.

There was a time when I thought Jesus had the answer. Was the answer.

And still, maybe for some people, in some places, He still does and is. There are times, I think, when people just need a reason to keep going. To keep trying. To have a reason to be able to face their fears and not be overcome. And maybe there are worse reasons to keep going.

While I’m in a Larry kind of mood … the first song of his that I ever heard is here. I still find it moving.


A friend, Rob Wilson, played it for me having sussed out that Larry Norman might appeal to me more than did the Glorylanders. He was right.

And then there is this … written so long ago … and yet … it’s absolutely up to date. Protest kind of songs seem to be timeless. Listen to it all the way through if you can … it’s worth it … honest.


What do you think?

Tonight … early tomorrow … I’ll go online a while.

Perhaps Zo will be there.

Really I don’t have much to say.

But I’m happy to listen.

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