People think rock stars have the wildest lives. That’s because they don’t know the lives of writers.
When I was growing up, I thought writers were serious persons with boring lives. Weird people dedicated to writing boring things.
As I came into contact with adventure books, my opinion changed a bit: now they were boring people who wrote mind-blowing stories.
As I got older, I became interested in writer’s lives, and that’s when the truth dazzled me.
I discovered that every good writer had dared to stare into the abyss.
I discovered that that abyss got inside them.
Some lived short lives but let us unforgettable books full of truth and wisdom.
That’s why in today’s article, I want to tell you about suicidal writers who were devoured by the abyss.
I have compiled their five best quotes and the lessons I have learned from them, and I would like to share them with you.
Let’s dive in
I. Ernest Hemingway
Born: Oak Park, Illinois; July 21, 1899.
Died: Ketchum, Idaho; July 2, 1961.
Cause of Death: Suicide by firearm.
Astrological sign: Cancer.
I recommend reading: The old man and the sea.
Curiosities: He had his own recipe for “Bloody Mary.”
Characterized by sober and concise writing, he lived a life different from his way of writing.
Hemingway’s life was interesting, risky, and extravagant.
He participated in the Battle of the Bulge, was in the liberation of Paris, was given a star for valor for his participation in World War II, was a prominent member of the lost generation of the 1920s, was in Cuba with Fidel Castro, swam among sharks, crashed a plane and survived. He was a born adventurer.
He was where you had to be in the twentieth century and with whom you had to be.
He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954.
Ernest drank life in gulps, and when he could not take it anymore, he fell into severe depression.
On the morning of July 2, 1961, he put the barrel of his hunting shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
He had a life full of curiosities, anecdotes, and good drinks.
His favorite cocktails were the Bellini, the Daiquiri, the Death in the afternoon, and the Bloody Mary.
He had his own recipe of Bloody Mary that included almost a liter of Russian vodka, Worcestershire sauce, lots of lemon and tomato juice.
One night Hemingway bet that he was able to make a novel with only six words. This mini-story, moreover, would have to provoke feelings of sadness in the reader.
Hemingway succeeded. The six-word novella is as follows:
“For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.”
Many of his phrases have remained for posterity, but if I had to choose, I would pick this one.
“The secret of wisdom, power, and knowledge is humility.”
Life has shown me that without humility, there is no possibility of learning. Hemingway knew this from his own experience and from the people he met throughout his life.
Humility is the virtue that will help you achieve everything you set your mind to. Without humility, you will be a victim of ego. Don’t forget that.
II. Virginia Woolf
Born: London, January 25, 1882-Lewes.
Died: Sussex, March 28, 1941.
Cause of death: Drowning.
Astrological sign: Aquarius.
I recommend reading: Mrs. Dalloway
Curiosities: She was on Hitler’s blacklist.
She was born into a large family, where her brothers went to school, and she and her sister Vanessa were educated at home.
Her first depression came when she was only thirteen years old after her mother died suddenly of a heart attack.
Her half-sister Estela took care of the family home until she married. Unfortunately, she would die a few years later from peritonitis.
It seemed that misfortunes would not stop happening: her father would die of cancer when Virginia Woolf was 23 years old. And she would be hospitalized for a nervous breakdown.
Her stepbrothers abused her and her sister Vanessa. It is believed that this caused her bipolar disorder.
Legend has it that she rejected the edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses.
During his marriage, she had relations with the also married Vita Sackville-West. They were lovers for almost a decade.
Bipolar disorder never gave him a break. After writing his last novel (Between acts), she plunged into a great depression. On March 28, 1941, she put on his coat, filled his pockets with stones, and threw himself into the Ouse River.
She lived an intense life and had to do it with severe mental illness for most of it. Yet Virginia had a vast knowledge of the human soul, and if I had to keep just one of her phrases, it would be this one.
“Life is a dream. ’Tis waking that kills us.”
I believe that happiness often comes from ignorance. When we are children, we are innocent. And because of that innocence, we see the world as a place of infinite possibilities.
As we grow up, we lose our innocence (we wake up). And disappointment after disappointment, we end up feeling lonely, and that kills us.
We have to recover our innocence. No matter how many times we are deceived, if we continue to distrust people because of our past experiences, we will be the ones who lose the most. Because when you decide to distrust: you decide to suffer.
We need to keep believing in others no matter how many times they fail us. Because that keeps us alive.
III. Yukio Mishima
Born: Tokyo, January 14, 1925.
Died: Ichigaya, November 25, 1970.
Cause of death: Seppuku (ritual death).
Astrological sign: Capricorn.
I recommend reading: Confessions of a Mask.
Curiosities: he founded his own military militia.
His real name was Kimitake Hiraoka. He was nominated 3 times for the Nobel Prize of literature.
In addition to being a writer, he was an actor, model, and bodybuilder.
His grandmother abused him when he was a kid, and his father considered him too sensitive to be a man.
He always nurtured his feminine side despite his father’s demands.
He studied law at university, but his books became so popular that he made a living from his writing.
He was a prolific author, wrote novels, plays, and books of short stories.
Mishima was a staunch defender of the emperor of Japan and the traditional virtues of his country. Motivated by his political thoughts, he founded his own militia.
On November 25, 1970, after holding General Kanetoshi Mashita and giving a failed speech in which he intended to light the fuse that would spark a coup d’état, he committed hara-kiri.
In the book Confessions of a Mask, he defined his life with a phrase that struck me so much that it is the one I have chosen for this article.
“life served me a banquet full of heartaches when I was too young to read the menu.”
Often life puts the most important decisions we will ever have to make at the beginning of the road.
We were kids, and we were not prepared to face the consequences of our actions.
Many things we don’t understand in childhood stick with us through adulthood as if they were riddles we are unable to decipher.
Youth can be a place full of light or darkness. The problem is that we do not have enough experience to make good decisions.
Mishima experienced things that no child would ever have to. And he was not able to process them.
He didn’t know what was right and what was wrong. The people who raised him instead of explaining it to him ended up confusing him.
We had all been confused by our environment when we were little. To mature is to realize it. To get rid of the conditioning we suffered and start thinking for ourselves.
Cultivate critical thinking!
Maybe you live the way the people who raised you taught you to live, instead of the way you really want to live.
IV. Sylvia Plath
Born: Boston, October 27, 1932.
Died: London, February 11, 1963.
Cause of death: Carbon monoxide poisoning.
Astrological sign: Scorpio.
I recommend reading: The bell jar.
Curiosities: she was a great drawer.
When her father died when she was only 55 years old, Sylvia had troubles with Aurelia, her mother.
While studying at Smith College, she attempted suicide for the first time. Because of that, she was treated at McLean Hospital with electroshock treatment.
She resumed her studies, won a scholarship, and traveled to London, where she met her future husband, Ted Hughes.
In 1961 Sylvia suffered a miscarriage and fell into a depression. As if that were not enough, her husband Ted cheated on her with the poet Assia Wevill (She also committed suicide), which ended up separating the couple.
The last part of her life was spent in London, living with economic hardship and her two children.
On February 11, 1963, when she could not take it anymore. She left the children breakfast ready, went to the kitchen, opened the gas, put her head in the oven, and ended up losing his life.
The apartment where the tragedy happened was the same one where W.B. Yeats had lived.
She had a tragic life, but she also lived happy periods such as her honeymoon, where she traveled to Spain and Paris and made beautiful ink drawings.
Sylvia had a dazzling intelligence and left many phrases to remember. But if I had to keep one would be this one.
“If you expect nothing from somebody, you are never disappointed.”
Buddhists do something similar. They do things without expecting anything in return. That’s how the law of karma works to your advantage.
Sylvia had been disappointed so many times… She concluded that the best way to live was to expect nothing from anyone.
When you think about it, that’s a great life lesson. The Stoics said that we need to focus on the things we can control and not suffer for those things we can not control.
What others do is not in our control, but what we do is.
Listen to Sylvia Plath and don’t expect anything from anyone.
Take responsibility for your actions, and expect a lot from yourself.
V. Hunter S. Thompson
Born: Louisville, Kentucky; July 18, 1937.
Died: Woody Creek, Colorado; February 20, 2005.
Cause of death: Gunshot wound.
Astrological sign: Cancer.
I recommend reading: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Curiosities: his daily routine would have scared any rock star.
Hunter lost his father when he was in high school.
He loved literature. He was kicked out of a book club in his youth for his writing. He thought writing gave him the power to shake anyone’s psyche.
I work for magazines like the Times or Rolling Stones. He traveled extensively in South America and became a FreeLancer.
He invented his own journalistic genre named Gonzo.
He did a wide range of jobs, from covering the civil war in Cambodia to spending a year living with the Hells Angels biker gang.
Hunter described himself as an avid reader, a bottomless drinker, and an excellent owner of a .44 Magnum, so much so that he even had a shooting range on his farm. But perhaps the one who gave us the most information about him was his friend Jean.
Jean Carroll wrote his biography and describe a typical day in Hunter´s life as follows
Hunter S. Thompson Daily routine
- 3:00 p.m. Wake up.
- 03:05 Chivas Regal with morning papers, Dunhills cigarettes.
- 03:45 Cocaine.
- 03:50 Another glass of Chivas, Dunhill cigarettes.
- 04:05 First cup of coffee, Dunhill cigarettes.
- 04:15 Cocaine.
- 04:16 Orange juice, Dunhill cigarettes.
- 04:30 Cocaine.
- 04:54 Cocaine.
- 05:05 Cocaine.
- 05:11 Coffee, Dunhills cigarettes.
- 05:30 More ice in the Chivas.
- 05:45 Cocaine.
- 06:00 Lying on the lawn to catch the sunset of the day.
- 07:05 Woody Creek Tavern for lunch, Heineken, two margaritas, coleslaw, a taco, a double order of fried onion rings, carrot cake, ice cream, a bean fritter, Dunhills cigarettes, another Heineken, cocaine and back home, a snow cone (a glass of crushed ice in which three or four little glasses of Chivas were served.)
- 09:00 Starts snorting cocaine in earnest.
- 10:00 Drops of acid.
- 11:00 Chartreuse, cocaine, weed.
- 11:30 Cocaine.
- 12:00 p.m. Hunter S. Thompson is ready to write.
- 12:05–06 a.m. Chartreuse, cocaine, weed, Chivas, coffee, Heineken, clove cigarettes, wine, Dunhills, orange juice, gin, porn movies.
- 06:00 The bathtub-champagne, hot bath, fettuccini Alfredo.
- 08:00 Halcyon.
- 08:20 Sleep again.
This is an exaggeration, but in all exaggeration, there is part of the truth.
His life was intense, on February 20, 2005, he can not take it anymore. And ended up shooting himself in the head. Before doing so, he wrote a note to his young wife Anita, which he ended up signing with a heart in which he explained the reasons that had led him to take his own life.
The note is short. When I read it blew my mind. I want to share it with you.
“No more games. No more bombs. No more walks. No more swimming. 67. That’s 17 years over 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Bored. I’m always grunting. That’s no fun, for anyone. 67. You’re getting greedy. Act like you’re your advanced age. Relax. This won’t hurt.”
–Hunter S. Thompson.
We often think much about death. Hunter don´t. He spent a lot of time thinking about life and squeezing every second out of it. He eventually got out of the way because was angry all day long.
The lesson I took away from reading his note is that you have to live life without being angry.
I have lived most of my life worried, serious, and angry. Angry at myself and the world. Being angry has only brought me suffering.
I learned from authors like Thompson not to worry so much.
I understood by the literature, happiness is part of life. The part that gives it meaning. So listen to the eccentric Hunter. Stop living angrily. Stop spending the day grumbling because that will get you nowhere.
Learn to be happy and enjoy life.
If you have read to the end of the article, I want to thank you for your support. I hope this article has helped you. Let me know in the comments, I really appreciate it.
Thanks for reading.
Alberto Garcia (Malafama1981)
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