David McCaulay writes, “Beachy Head [in the south of England] is big and it’s brash. It’s the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain; it’s like the white cliffs of Dover on acid.
And the lighthouse nestling at the foot of the cliff like a twist of seaside rock, a perfect afterthought of a little light house, completes the composition and makes the scale of this 530 ft. high beast apparent.
If Beachy Head had a personality it would be a large, raw boned Cockney fellow. He doesn’t hail from Dorset or the gentle shales of East Anglia, but prefers the gaudy pleasures and amusements of Brighton.
I think of Michael Caine, in Alfie – or maybe even Get Carter.
Because like Jack Carter, Beachy Head has a sinister side. Since the 1600s the chalky rocks tumbled at the foot of this great behemoth have been stained with the blood of jumpers, making it Britain’s most popular suicide spot and the third most popular place in the world to jump.
It seems jumpers are keen to make a spectacle and their mark on a landmark. Rather than a concrete car park in Basildon they would rather free fall from the magnificent heights of Beachy Head or from the world’s number one suicide spot, the graceful span of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Today the railings at the top of the sea cliff are festooned with signs giving the Samaritans helpline number. It hasn’t helped much.
But most of us are content to gaze on Beachy Head as a style icon and a cheeky chip of old Britain.
It’s no coincidence that the Mod scooter goes crashing to the ground off Beachy Head at the end of the film Quadrophenia.
If it was off a hillside in Swindon, it just wouldn’t have been the same.”
Great writing, Mr. McCaulay. I was going to copy just a small piece, but it would lose its context. Isn’t it sad that the greatest accomplishment of many is the place where they committed suicide? A friend of ours in Worthing, England, told us that they had recently removed the top layer of soil so that the peak that people leaped onto is no longer red from all the blood.
Langston Hughes wrote,
“Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.”
And so she fires up her computer and finds a loser with tobacco-stained fingers living in the armpit of the world who tells her she’s beautiful… Desperation knows no limits.
Instead of letting your slovenly choices drag you slowly and inexorably to the edge of the dangerous precipice of No Dreams and No Hope, you simply need to realize that it’s never too late to dream again. The prisoner on Death Row gets a new lease on a short life when he gets a cat to look after. He is happier than he has been in a long time. Fact is, my life may well end before his, but am I as motivated to find a real purpose before I expire? Maybe we need a cat. I’m serious – when you start feeling like there’s noting left and life stinks, before you scramble up onto a well-known bridge, how about dragging yourself off to the local SPCA?
If you’re serious about being happier in your life and finding a real reason to get out of bed in the morning, find a purpose larger than yourself, even if it is the happiness of an abandoned dog. The bigger the purpose, and the more defined your role and contributing to it, the happier your life will get.
This article I wrote, “How to Be Very Happy and Create a Great Life,” might help you. It will take less time to read than getting onto the loser cruiser (bus) to the bridge. After all, what would your cat do without you? It’s never too late to start having a great life, you know.
What do you think?
During WW2, men were prepared to lose their lives to protect the English coast from invading Germans. Same cliff – different choices and responses… You CAN turn your lemons into lemonade. We’ve all been clawed, but there’s nothing nicer than cuddling with a soft cat.