Life is Worth Living

“What’s the point of going on what’s the point of living, it’s safe here in outer space where no one can hurt you. 

You’ve got to plant your feet on the ground and continue living.”

Words spoken by George Clooney to
Sandra Bullock in the movie Gravity.
They’re two astronauts lost in space.
Bullock has lost hope with no desire to live, since she lost her four year old daughter. She doesn’t want to return to earth.
She wants to die in outer space.

Clooney, the eternal optimist cajoles her to keep on going, that there’s always a reason to continue life even if today seems bleak.

The message is powerful. This is a movie, but it’s not a make believe story. It’s real life everyday drama. We may not be an astronaut in an Academy Award movie, nevertheless we’re actors in a plot called life.

Clooney’s soliloquy is not directed to the person who suffers from serious depression or the one contemplating suicide.

Rather, this message is for the everyday person who at times feels so overwhelmed by life’s challenges that they feel they can’t go on. They may not seriously think of or plan suicide, but they do think of death as a better alternative.

People may be beset by serious financial woes or a terminal illness. They may have a child with a serious disability, or a miserable marriage. Imagine the anguish of a divorcing couple where one spouse is not permitted visits with his or her children. A man or woman could be unemployed with little prospects for a good job. With little money in the bank, mounting bills, and walls closing in how can a person continue? Yesterday all seemed to be going well. In the blink of an eye an upheaval can too easily make a person feel like giving up.

Rabbi Yaakov Reisman, Rav of Aguda of Long Island related this story.
He and several other prominent Rabbinical leaders were sharing their family common experiences of raising a child with a disability. One Rav in the group told of having two young children with a degenerative terminal illness. They would unfortunately have a short life span.

When he and his wife first heard this diagnosis they both went into a deep state of depression. He was a public persona with responsibility to help others, yet he could not bear his own pain. They withdrew into solitude ready to give up.

The Rav said he and his wife began ‘drinking’. I was astonished to hear this.
I reacted exactly as you would. Drinking? Alcoholics?

No, definitely not alcoholics. Listen to this.

This Rav and his wife began to drink a lot of water. For too long a time neither one was willing to get out of bed a telltale sign of depression.

By consuming large quantities of water they knew nature would force them out of bed to the bathroom. They began drinking. Consuming water was a salvation from depression, a mood stabilizer.

The enormity of this self-help lesson cannot be overstated. Is there anything more sacred to parents than their children? How can a parent return from a living death watching their children slowly die?

One cannot judge others pain. Understandably, there may be individuals in desperate situations, whose feeling of hopelessness puts them on the highway of wishfully yearning death.

Certainly, people suffering from serious anxiety disorder, bi polar disorder or depression are likely to need a combination of talk therapy and medication. Yet many others shine a light unto themselves, an intrinsic pull out of their own disequilibrium.

A person who is lonely can escape into his own abyss far away into the cosmos to seek safety. We cannot simply wish it away, or tell them don’t worry it will be ok. But we can let them know we are there for them as a friend, to listen, to offer support and to show our love. We need to try to penetrate their deep state of loneliness.

Life is worth living. Will it be- we started drinking alcohol to forget the depression, or we started drinking water to confront the depression?

About the Author
David Mandel is Chief Executive Officer of OHEL Children's Home and Family Services in New York