Nothing moved me more inspirationally than the documentary The Bridge. It didn’t have to move me very far either, just a little nudge to throw me off track.
The track that I’m referring to is my repeated cycle of use. I get an urge, I find enough money, buy a large 1.75 liter of Canadian whiskey, and start all over again. Maybe just to maintain or to really kill some daemons, or celebrate a minor victory or a major defeat, whatever excuse, but I must get sloshed. Sometimes I’m trying to avoid passing out; other times intending to. Sometimes I’m trying to avoid blacking out, but it happens anyway. Sometimes (very rarely) I’m intending to blackout. Either way, I’m happy to see a good portion left when I wake and sad when I don’t. When I finally run out it means either another trek to the liquor store, or if I don’t have money, suffer through withdrawal and possible Grand Mal seizures. When all is done and over with I somehow find the funds to buy another bottle and the cycle repeats.
It’s like a NASCAR track. I pull into the pit to fuel up and I’m off and running. I may hit a grease spot on the track, slide and crash. I may make it completely around, where I run out of fuel and have to gas up again.
All I know is that I’d like to get off the track all together.
Late night, early February, just after my last drink, but before my first meeting, I’m scanning the cable guide for something to watch and come across an interesting documentary: The Bridge. It’s described as a video documentary of 24 suicide jumpers from the Golden Gate Bridge in the year 2004. My morbid curiosity is peaked and so I switch to it thinking if it gets too depressing I can always change the channel. Truth in advertising; within the first few minutes a common everyday man climbs over the railing and drops to his death.
The Golden Gate Bridge holds a special place in my heart. I drove to San Francisco when I’d lost my first job. I walked the seven-mile span of the bridge, looked over its railing, found it awe-inspiring. It is, for me, the most beautiful romantic bridge in the world. What better place to end your life?
More people commit suicide from the Golden Gate Bridge than any other place in the world. I didn’t know this until watching the film and definitely didn’t make the romantic connection when I walked over it. But, I guess this idea has an attraction for suicides.
The crew would film these suicides using telephoto lenses, and then interview the family and friends. All the suicide victims had so much in common with what was going on in my life: drinking, job loss, homelessness, etc. However, I didn’t want to commit suicide. So, I thought I’d better get into action.
The next day Stewart called and asked if I wanted to go to a meeting. He took me to my home group Mar League. It didn’t have to move me far, just a nudge into action.