Be Somebody Else?


Contributing Writer
Walt Pickut

In case nobody reminded you lately, you can be anybody you want to be.

If that doesn’t sound right, consider this question:

At what age were you done becoming the you that you wanted to be?

We all had dreams and hopes of the person we would grow up to be. Some of us (not many, if truth be told) made it all the way to our dreams. Many of us made it part of the way to comfortable, but maybe less than we wanted. And a few probably never made it very far at all. But here we are. Done? Satisfied?

I bet there’s at least a little dissatisfaction around the edges, or around a few dark corners. Anything from tempers to skills, or from money to love could probably stand a little buffing up and polishing, couldn’t it?

Trouble is, we get “set in our ways.” Then that gets comfortable and we settle for it. Unfortunately, sometimes settling for less is a bad habit. Dissatisfaction starts to grow down deep and we try not to notice it.

In other words, not being who you always wanted to be can lead you to a downward spiral.

Henry David Thoreau, in his 1846 book “Walden,” wrote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” He never added the phrase some have credited to him, but it does make his point even more strongly: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and die with their song still inside them.”

Fortunately, we’re also all practical and we do enjoy many satisfactions and accomplishments. After all, some of the most outrageous dreams are just that, unrealistic, unreasonable and unattainable. I, for instance, will never be Emperor of the World, or even the best badminton player in the universe. I can live with that.

This week, however, the Jamestown Gazette invites you to think about the few of us who’s dreams and hopes all lie shattered at our feet. This is National Suicide Prevention week. Some people can see no way up.

But there are ways. Many ways. One is to become somebody else, somebody who might not be trapped inside their interpretation of the world they see.

Quiz question. I’ve asked it before, but I want to be sure you remember the answer. Who owns your brain? Quiz answer. You do. Now here’s the hard part: you can tell it what to do. If you can tell your hands and feet how to move, you can tell your brain, your mind, how to think… it’s just as much a part of you.

Suicide prevention is a matter of changing minds. Creating – not so much hope, but confidence – that one can live a different life, and they can choose it. Not easy, but it is a possibility.

I wish I had thought of it myself, but Shakespeare said it first. “…for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” We have limited information and cannot know or fully understand the entire past, present or future. That makes suicide a grave mistake

Suicide prevention comes in many more forms, with many strategies. All of them, though, have one common part: Somebody has to care enough to say something when they see something. Caring is the magic ingredient. You can save a life with it.

This week, we invite you to learn the warning signs that you can see, and then plan to say something where a word is needed. It might simply begin with, “I care…”

Enjoy the read.

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.