While I realize there has been quite a bit of non-technical posts as of late, I wanted to continue to share things that mean a lot to me.
Two years ago I was hit with news that shook me to my core. I was not aware that I could be affected in that way – it was a profound sense of loss, sadness, and despair at the news that Chester Bennington of Linkin Park had taken his own life. On the surface, one might ask why I would describe it in such drastic terms. It is not as if he was a close friend, or that I had even known him as a casual acquaintance. But in the weeks and months that followed I went through a particularly dark time emotionally, often feeling physically ill, at times being near throwing up at the pain and hurt with the torrent of emotion that I was feeling. Why and how could and should this strangers passing, sad as it may be, affect me so?
I reflected several days after Chester’s death and thought back to a friend of mine who was deeply saddened at the news of the death of David Bowe in January 2016. At the time I had no context to understand what he was feeling, and I made light of the impact it had on them. When Chester passed, I was remorseful, guilty and embarrassed that I had not recognized and offered empathy to them or even to try to understand their situation. When that feeling of loss had come over me to the point where I was physical ill, I could not totally comprehend why at the time. As the days passed, it gradually became easier as I began reading about the experiences of others who had the same emotions. I found a connection in a community of people, who despite having not known Chester, were impacted in their lives through the connection that music brings – a connection that may not ever be fully explained to those who had the experience of such a connection in their lives.
In my case, it began when I started listening to Linkin Park’s music in the year 2000 when “One Step Closer” hit the radio. In October 2000, I remember buying the CD Hybrid Theory – it was the only music CD that I had ever purchased for myself, all the others had been a gift. From the day the album was released, I listened to the music of Linkin Park daily, often on repeat, for two-three-five-ten…twenty iterations. I had a deep connection with their articulation and expression in the music. As the years progressed, they released more music and the playlist grew. Yet through the years, my daily habits continued. In 2011, my wife and I attended a Linkin Park Concert, which also happened to be the first live concert I had ever attended. It was something I will never forget, and will forever be grateful for the opportunity to have seen them in concert.
I continued that pattern of daily listening, for at least 45-60 minutes per day, it seems, for nearly 17 years until Chester took his own life. Linkin Park and the vocals of Chester Bennington were something that had been apart of my life longer than I just about everything else I had ever known. Longer than my marriage, my career… In a way, it was my escape into something familiar. While I never connected with many people in my day to day life who were anything more than casual fans of their music, I continued to keep their music in my life.
Throughout the years Linkin Park grew and used their influence for benefit of those less fortunate. I became aware of the band’s efforts in Music For Relief after the Haitian earthquake in 2010. I realized that there was a connection to humanitarian efforts the band had been involved with that I was previously unaware, and that they were positively impacting the lives of others around the world. In a world filled with many inescapable tragedies, I was inspired with a renewed sense of hope to see them so generously giving of themselves, their time and using their platform for the good of others.
In the months following the news of the death of Chester Bennington, there was a deep sadness within me. I felt as though a major part of my life would never be the same. I would never have the chance to go see Linkin Park in concert as I had in 2011. More than that, I reflected on what it meant that a man who had a family, at a point of “doing well for ones self” just having had entered his 40’s with notoriety and a full life ahead had made such a dark and drastic decision to end his life.
I later learned that Chester was friends with Chris Cornell, who I knew had died by suicide two months prior. I struggled to find an understanding of the pain that these two men had in their lives to lead to their ultimate end. It opened my eyes to the very real struggle that so many people of all walks face, and towards an understanding that the issue of mental well being affects people of all walks.
I wanted to echo the words of Talinda Bennington, Chester’s late wife, spoken at the Hollywood Bowl in October 2017, “It is time that we recognize that mental health is as important as our physical health.”
If you are able and want to contribute to make a difference, please visit 320 at ChangeDirection.org
Some have commented saying that they do not want to glorify or celebrate the day of Chester’s death, and for that I agree. But I do believe we can take the opportunity to reflect and remind ourselves to be kind to each other, love each other and offer empathy to others.
If you are struggling, you are not alone. Please seek help.