Saturday, December 19, 2009

Leaving

This is an Outside magazine profile of Laura and Guy Waterman. I heard about their story on the incomparably wondrous "To The Best Of Our Knowledge" (ttbook.org). They are a couple who were avid outdoorspeople and were living and working deep in the New England woods, writing and working on wilderness conservation. The reason why they are featured in the profile and on the show is that Guy Waterman, in early 2000, made it clear he was going to commit suicide, walked up into the mountains, and froze to death. I'm currently reading her book "Losing The Garden", about her marriage.

The stunning and somewhat noteworthy part is that Mrs. Waterman knew what he was planning to do and didn't try to stop him. Comedian Doug Stanhope tells a joke in his act about suicide being like leaving a movie halfway through-if the first half of the movie has been horrible, you really don't have any reason to believe the second half is going to be any better. Laura Waterman seems to have a similar attitude-she let her husband go because she loved him-he made sure she was taken care of, but he had grown tired and miserable at the prospect of more life, and didn't want anything else to do with it, so he left it.


This is a stunning way of thinking. It's realistic, and I can't deny the logic of it. It goes against our typical way of reasoning-in the West, we seem unable to admit that life has an end the same way it had a beginning. It's an involving story, if not a particularly cheerful one. Worth your time.

I'm not prepared to judge her, or him-that's not my job, and I can't even understand my own marriage, never mind someone else's. It's a compelling, if sad, testimony.

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