Chester Bennington: One More Light, One Final Lesson
“Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.”
Pope Paul VI
This weekend I found myself watching a movie I told myself I would never watch again. Through all the heartache, despair, frustration, and grief it previously caused me, I had convinced myself that it would never be worth the time to spend another two and a half hours watching it.
I remember sitting in the theater and leaning over to my friend as a fellow moviegoer got up to use the washroom. In his ear, I whispered that he had gotten up to go and throw up at the sheer disgust of the film. I spent the entire time complaining, moaning, and doing everything humanly possible to let all those around me that I wasn’t happy.
It didn’t end there.
For the following three weeks I made jokes, poked fun, and belittled the movie. There wasn’t a single aspect of the movie that I left untouched. From the way in which it announced all responsible in the opening credits to the drawn out summary of production at the end, this movie was terrible.
And yet, through all of this, I sat down once again to watch it. This time I watched the extended edition. This meant that instead of the two and half hours that I previously suffered through, I would be in for a three-hour marathon of bliss.
Although you may not believe it, I’m not a glutton for punishment.
This past week Linkin Park front man, Chester Bennington was found dead inside his home. The cause of death has been ruled a suicide by hanging. He was 41.
I remember listening to their eponymous album, “Hybrid Theory” when it released in October of 2000. I was a teenager looking for answers and this album had those answers. At any point during the subsequent three months after its release I could be found riding the bus, listening to my CD player, and head-banging to “Crawling”, “Pushing Me Away”, and “One Step Closer”. This album had an overarching influence on my developing musical tastes.
I have found myself revisiting what made this album so revolutionary. Among many others are the sounds it contained that helped revolutionize music. It was brash, loud, and painted a perfect picture of the flourishing nu-metal sound. It was a beautiful combination of dissatisfaction and angst that as a young man, I craved. As Chester Bennington screamed, so did I.
I thrived on it.
The album knew exactly who would listen to it and did everything it could to align itself with those people. Unlike most albums of the era, Hybrid Theory acquired fans from inside and outside its all-encompassing genre. Even my brother, who has the complete opposite musical tastes that I do, found solace in Hybrid Theory. Chester Bennington had something to do with this.
David Foster Wallace (who also committed suicide) describes suicide as this:
“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling “Don’t!” and “Hang on!” can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”
First Chris Cornell and now Chester Bennington.
Without question, suicide is something that must be talked about and brought to the forefront. People needlessly suffer and they suffer silently.
But this post isn’t about suicide. Nor is it about Chester Bennington. This post is about the haunting realization that life is as short as we are told it is and sometimes shorter. This post is about making the most of every moment and living as if tomorrow is not guaranteed because it isn’t. Most importantly, this post is about asking a simple question.
”Are you living?”
It’s up to us to make the most of it. We hold the keys to our futures and no matter which way we look at it, this doesn’t change. As we often allow them to, the miscast blame, the excuses for the educations we receive, a fear of persecution, and all the reasons we tell ourselves that we can or can’t do something have no bearing on the outcome of tomorrow.
Life is far too short to concern ourselves with these, let alone live our lives in accordance with them. We cannot wake every day filled with uncertainty, and false beliefs and hope to achieve all that we wish to achieve.
I hope that you can see this.
This brings me full circle to the movie I referenced above. If it brought me so much heartache, frustration, despair, and grief, why would I spend another 3 hours of my life watching it again? If I hated it so much, how could I once again sit in torment?
In three words…the small details. The things that matter. As I watched it for the first time, I was too busy waiting for the next big moment to notice the small details that could have made it better than I originally perceived. Instead of focusing on the subtle intricacies of the film, I chose to focus on the things that I knew would bother me.
This was wrong.
If I had paid attention I would’ve quickly realized that this film closely resembles the beauty that life can hold.
Every aspect of life has the opportunity to become a breathtaking memory. From the way in which the grass smells after a rain to the sight of a roaring fire, life is memorable. The most important points of your life have been decorated by these small details and I can promise you that you have, at times, noticed them.
If you’re fortunate enough to be in a relationship, you know exactly what I mean.
In a relationship, we tend to notice those small things. The way our spouses walk, the nuances in the words they use, and the certainty that they have had a great day, even when they haven’t told us. We know these because we pay attention to them.
It is in the times that we don’t pay attention that life passes us by. As we drive, use our phones, exercise, and do our jobs, life uncontrollably goes on autopilot. Autopilot = Missed Moments.
Just last week I found myself frustrated because the car in front of me was driving at only half of the speed limit. As the cars whizzed past both of us, I turned on my signal to do the same and get around my friend in front of me. But I didn’t. I didn’t do it. Instead, I took the time to look at all the wonderful things around me.
I realized that I had driven down this street an uncountable amount of times, yet I had never truly driven down the street. For the first time I noticed the architecture of the under construction buildings, the way in which the lights are delightfully synchronized, and the laughter the children made as I drove past their school. These things, while may seem trivial, changed the course of my day.
“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”
Our minds have been meticulously “designed” to filter out everything that doesn’t benefit us.
This allows us to directly focus on the things that are important to us. The most widely used example is that of a car. We never seem to notice a particular brand of a car until we have either bought it or are considering buying it. Once we notice it, they appear everywhere and we ask where they all came from.
The mind has been sculpted to only allow a set amount of information in. Imagine how unbearable life would become if we were constantly inundated with useless/unusable information. Even though this system clearly has flaws, its effectiveness cannot be understated. This system works and works well. Too well, in fact.
It works better when we learn to control it. Controlling it is as easy as reprogramming what you ask it to notice and not notice. The more you begin to notice, the more that it stores what you will notice. Follow me? Controlling is about belief….belief that you have the power of control.
“I learned to believe in myself. If you don’t believe in yourself, who can you expect to believe in you?”
If you want your mind to notice the way the sun reflects off each body of water, large and small, show it how to and it will. If you want it to notice the Starbucks logo from afar, begin paying attention to them you will notice them. Or, if you’re like me and you want it to notice the small intricacies of life, begin paying attention to them and eventually, you won’t even notice you’re paying attention to them.
We control everything about our lives. It is through this control that we will or won’t feel alive. The question is, will you put in the work and effort to begin noticing the things that are important?
Remember, life is ephemeral. Use your time wisely.
Cheers to your success,
Chester Bennington, may you finally find solace and become content with yourself.
If you’re wondering, the movie was Batman V. Superman