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Today was a rather unprecedented example of the two extreme realities of life and death. In both scenarios there is a woman in her 20s, in one case she lives, in another she dies. One is Japanese, the other is American. The similarities, it seems, end there, not because they do not exist, but because I am not familiar with either one of them.
This morning, I read about a Yale graduate by the name of Marina Keegan who had written a powerful piece called “The Opposite of Loneliness” shortly before she died in a car accident last week. She was just 22, already successful in her own way, and ready to start a career with The New Yorker and go on doing whatever she clearly was talented at doing. It seemed so unfair - she was the one who wrote about how we are still so young and that it is really never too late to begin a beginning, and that above all, family and friends were what would be most important.
We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life.
As I walked around town shortly thereafter, I was witness to a rescue operation of a suicidal woman who was walking along the edge of the Excelsior Cafe building in Roppongi. As (morbidly?) curious onlookers crowded the streets below, the police rescue crew set up giant inflatable cushions at the base of the building, and went up to coerce her to come away from the edge. Later reports said she was drunk and had gotten into a fight with her boyfriend, and was successfully rescued 3 hours into the ordeal.
If only the suicidal lady had been able to hear Marina’s words! It seems almost cruel to see a life with so much potential cut off so abruptly when she had no choice to do otherwise (Marina wasn’t speeding), and on the other hand seeing someone driven to the extent of desperation as to consider jumping off a building. Obviously these two women’s stories have surfaced to our attention in ways countless other lives have not, but the stark contrast was quite the food for thought.
If you haven’t read her piece yet, please do so now.