Sparked by Words

Go You or I

Ninety-nine point nine percent of all the people in the world are exactly the same. Exactly. We are more kin than stranger. We are more alike than different. We share more than we own. The infinitesimal difference between us is nothing much at all, and is often due more to luck than intent.

No, it isn’t because of all the wonderful things we’ve individually accomplished to make ourselves uniquely special. It isn’t because we’ve worked so diligently that we’ve earned our blessings. It’s just blind luck.

As blind as justice that lets most criminals escape and most victims suffer without relief and many innocent bear the weight of the true criminal. As blind as the man dragging his fingers along the wall that keeps him out before he realizes it’s a barrier to keep him from falling into a chasm. As blind as the baby in the womb who can’t see his mother’s face yet trusts that the salty sea will continue to nourish until he’s pulled into a dry embrace that feels aberrant . Until he is calmed by those arms, those breasts, those noises so unlike the lu-DUB lu-DUB he’d found his first salve, and falls asleep to his new comfort.

We all need and want, dream and aspire. You the limelight, her the career, him the acknowledgement, them the community, me the opportunity. Really, no more a difference than a wooden plaque or bronze statue.

And after the applause or the star on the chart, all we really want is to be loved.

Someone who gets us and gives to us, who wants to be near us in body and thought, to hear our voice the last sound at night, to say our name first thing in the morning , to share our vision and argue about what that might be. To hold our hand when we worry, cool our head when we fever, weep with us over our failures, and admonish us when we step out of line.

It’s because we are loved – because YOU are loved, that I want to say to you: The path has few markers we can see, the cheers never last until dawn, the shelf on which the trophy sits gets dusty faster than we can earn another. None of that matters as much as that you are here in the world. And that someone loves you.

When you fear the ache, when you despise the dark hole, when doubt makes you nauseous, when you believe that one more moment is unbearable, reach out. The despair is temporary. The flesh burn heals. The tumult in your soul calms. Call someone and talk. Call me and I’ll listen. Put out your hand, we’ll grab hold and not let go.

Ninety-nine point nine percent of all the people in the world are exactly the same.

Except one of those people loves you. Do not forget nor forsake the one who loves you. For if that momentary relief by rope or pill or bullet or knife removes the pain from your heart, it empties the pain into the one who loves you. And it stays forever in their marrow, as long as they live. Their tears never dry, they wonder always if they were the reason, they search every frontier trying to find the explanation. Trying to bring you back. Trying to remind you that they miss you and need you.

We are all saddened and shocked by the suicides last week of two remarkably talented and admired superstars. Heroes who brought us the world and brought the world to our door. As much as we, their fans and supporters, miss them and wonder what crucial need we didn’t fill on their behalf, it is the two young daughters left behind who will bear the weight of their absences.

Ninety-nine point nine percent of all the people in the world are exactly the same. But those young girls are unique and different. They were your point one percent. I wish you’d lingered over their pictures one millisecond longer because I bet you would have reconsidered your actions. I bet you would still be here. Please do not let your permanent solution be their permanent grief.

There but for fortune, may go you or I.


The title words Go You or I are borrowed from the song There But for Fortune written by Phil Ochs in 1964. He was a brilliant and sensitive man who suffered from mental instability and succumbed to his despair by committing suicide in 1976. Before that, Phil Ochs left a legacy of hundreds of songs about the many social and political issues that brought him to grief. His work has been sung by dozens of famous recording artists and is on the lips of the millions of us who remember him and hope he knows we still praise the man who helped make us aware of the rest of the world.


Weeping Nude, 1914, by Edvard Munch




Comments on: "Go You or I" (32)

  1. Life would be calmer, fairer and more respectful if everyone remembered how similar we are.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. It is amazing how alike we are physiologically and end up so different! That ‘one person loves you’–a powerful thought. And true. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sharon, your essay is extremely powerful. Thank you for this. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this, Shari. A much needed reminder. Blessed to have so much in common with y’all.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sharon this is so beautifully and powerfully expressed. We too were so saddened by the news of Anthony Bourdain ~ he was such an inspiration to so many. (I had a huge crush on him too.) I am no stranger to the pain of suicide. My brother took his own life at the tender age of 24. I have come to accept it as his choice, but it has not been an easy road to acceptance.

    Yes, all we have, is love. Nothing else could be more essential and primordial.


    Liked by 2 people

    • Peta, thank you for your kind comment about love being primordial. I’m so sorry about your brother. No matter that you’ve come to terms with his suicide, it must still be painful for you to remember his young life consumed by his demons.

      Are you and Ben still in France?


  6. beautiful post, sharon, i am so moved by your choice of words, picture and quote for the title. each of us can love, open for love, engage in love, that’s all that matters, all we can take with us.
    these words are comforting, and many need comfort now.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for this beautifully crafted reminder of the importance not only of loving but of showing one’s love, Sharon. I hear of suicides and feel a mixture of emotions. Grief naturally, particularly when it’s of someone who is close to me, or close to someone I love. But also anger at the selfishness of that person, leaving behind so many people with scars that may never heal. Particularly when (as in this country), a fairly regular way to commit suicide is to throw yourself in front of a high-speed train, leaving scores of people to clear up. At the same time, I feel incredibly sad that such a person would have reached such a low stage in their lives, to feel totally unloved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How awful to throw yourself in front of a train – I can’t imagine the despair someone must feel to commit such an irrevocable act. I have not led a charmed life at all, but I never felt the only way out was to commit suicide.
      I don’t know what is the one thing that can make a suicidal person take the step back from the tracks. It might be different for each person, making the responsibility of the person trying to hold on to the depressed one even harder. I’ve read brief statements from Bourdain’s ex-wife and most recent girlfriend begging people not to blame them. I would never think of blaming them – they have to live their own lives, not his. So I get your feeling about how selfish suicide is because it leaves not only a space where someone used to be, but also a mess to clean up. Thanks for your contribution, Denzil.


  8. Well said Sharon. Suicide does leave a lasting ache – for many more than those close to the one who ended their life. I know a school girl whose older sister killed herself. It left a lasting impression on me, who did not know her, and I hate to think how the family felt if I felt and still feel her death.
    We are all so similar – if only we could all realise it what a nice place it would be to live. I’m holding out my hand …..

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Profound and gorgeous, full of reality and wisdom. The world would be a better place if we realized how similar we are.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a lovely post! I don’t know if I would be capable of suicide, but I do know that I refuse to consider it as an option because I would never do that to my daughter who I love with all my heart. She keeps me fighting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your daughter and your granddaughter, both of whom love you so deeply. Karen, that’s got to be the motivation to keep fighting through the blackness. Thank you for reading.


  11. beautiful post, Sharon — wonderful reminder to cherish our loved ones & even strangers who are more alike us than not. years ago, on afternoon when I was feeling lonely enough to just lie on my bed, I started hearing all the sounds of my neighbors — we’re so alike — driving home, turning on microwaves for dinner, phoning people, etc — & I realized we’re never alone, really…


  12. Couldn’t agree more with you, Shari. That one percent makes all the difference.


I would love to know what you think.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: