Location: Sonoma, CA
Welcome to the new NewsFromNowhere.info (former home of the publication News From Nowhere). I’m Wiley Combs (former editor of the publication News From Nowhere). With my trusty dog Emma at my side, I’m journeying across all 48 contiguous United States, seeking truth, love, and the American Dream.
I’m a writer, or so I tell people. It’s much less embarrassing than saying “I’m unemployed.” I have, in fact, written things before, and I was employed for some time, during my sporadic college career, as a reporter and columnist for the university newspaper, The Branding Iron. I also used to be some sort of “editor” of some sort of “publication” that once was hosted on this site. I enjoyed writing, and thought I had valuable insights to offer people. But nothing has inspired me to write for some time, and what little I have written seems unimpressive and incomplete. I’ve lost my muse, but maybe I’ll find it somewhere out here.
When I talk about this trip I’m on, there is one question that nobody ever asks: “WHY?” The trope of taking a journey to find oneself is so universal (the “rite of passage” which is a common thread throughout human cultures) that many seem to take it for granted that I’m on a romantic adventure. Well, I’m not; this “adventure” was thrust upon me by the forces of fate, and I am frankly rather daunted by it. This is not a vacation, it’s fucking work. And do I ever have my work cut out for me.
Lately, my life has been a living hell. Looking back on it, I cannot help but feel shame and regret. You see, I was once like most 20-somethings: young, vibrant, and excited for the future. Somewhere along the line (I’m not sure when), the excitement wore off and I became a self-loathing hedonistic jackass. My dreams of the future dissolved, and I turned into a miserable individual, motivated only by hedonistic impulses and desperately attempting to maintain a vestige of sanity. Repeated attempts to complete college met with abject failure. Employment was intermittent and abortive. Every effort seemed doomed to failure. Distraction became my primary objective, and just getting through each day was a struggle.
To be frank, I have not yet escaped from this self-loathing. Each day is still a struggle. I regret the way I’ve wasted my life. I regret the mistakes that I’ve made and the people that I’ve hurt. And I fear the mistakes that I will make in the future. In this emotional environment, I find it incredibly difficult envision a life in which I am happy, or to even make plans to achieve happiness. What makes it worse is that I’ve bottomed out several times before, and tried to set myself back on a positive track, only to inevitably bottom out again.
Depressing, huh? You’re damn right it is. It’s like an acquired brain injury: I can remember feeling happiness at one time, and am constantly frustrated by my present emotional disability. My former self would not even be able to comprehend the recurrent suicidal impulses that have become a persistent nagging conundrum; I used to naively think myself incapable of such thoughts when I was younger. Now I know that anyone can have them, and many, in fact, must fight an ongoing internal struggle against their own personal demons.
This fact was hammered home by the recent loss of one of my best friends to suicide. Andrew was a kindred spirit whose presence and attitude were an inspiration to those who were fortunate enough to know him. He was energetically brilliant, and downright hilarious. We had weathered some pretty rough situations together, and come out mostly unscathed. Andrew had put himself on a very positive path, re-entered college was succeeding wonderfully at it. He had friends and family that loved him, limitless potential as a human being, and a powerfully effective approach to solving his problems.
Or so I thought. The night that we found the rotting carcass of what had been Andrew, the empty shell of what was once a living soul, it shattered what little faith I had left in my own ability to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. It is no exaggeration to say that Andrew was an inspiration to me when he was alive. His counsel was very much appreciated, and our lengthy discussions of deep theoretical matters motivated my own efforts at self-education and -improvement. I lost a large part of myself when Andrew shucked off this mortal coil.
Needless to say, I miss him dearly, but what I miss more is the apparently false image that I had of him, the one that made me want to be like him in many ways. Now everything that we shared, what was once sacred and beautifully human, is tainted with this overpowering miasma. I doubt every feeling that I have, even the positive ones, because I wonder how close to Andrew’s feelings they are. I ask myself: “is this how Andrew felt before he decided to off himself?”
I don’t know why I’m telling you this, internet-land. Personally, I probably need to get some of this shit off my chest. But I also hope that this brief explanation of my experience with suicide provides a little insight into its effects on the psyche. Then again, I’m a pretty messed up individual, so perhaps this experience is singularly my own.
That’s a pretty depressing first post. I’ll make it up to you with this picture of my dog being cute: