He Had It All. He Had Nothing.

Dudes: think back to when you were of high school and college age. Consider how you were wired. Put yourself back in that place for a moment, ride the time machine back, and do your best to ignore everything since.

Now be honest — not with me but with yourself. What if you were told that, as an “old man” of 41, you would be:

    1. Famous and admired for your talents the world over
    2. Wealthy beyond need, for life, can buy whatever car or electronics you want
    3. Married to a Playboy model
    4. Rock star
    5. Able-bodied, free of cancer and heart problems
    [In other words, by virtue of 1-5, you have the world by the balls.]
    6. One more thing.

What would you have given to be granted 1-5? It would have sounded like an amazing life, right? Most young men’s dreams.

Most would answer affirmatively, regardless of whatever #6 is. Yes, I know there are remarkably mature and self-aware exceptions. I’m not talking about that minority of men. The *overwhelming* majority of those I knew would have taken 1-5, without pause. Most of the others who paused would be curious about 6, but chanced it for the sake of 1-5. If we’re honest with our 19-year-old selves, perhaps even older, most of us would have chanced #6 too.

Now what if I told you that #6 was: suicidal, alcoholic, ravaged mind from abuses by others and self, dying at 41? That changes things.

Chester Bennington seemed to have it all, and killed himself yesterday.

None of those 1-5 was enough. Is it ever? Do the world’s material provisions, fame, wealth, sex, recognition, fulfill and complete?

As the linked story above notes: “He admitted to ‘hating the world’, adding: ‘I had a song in my phone at the start of the process called I Hate The World Right Now.'”

He had it all; he had nothing. In his eyes, life was worthless even with all the worldly money, accolades, sex, drugs, and material things he had. All those he was given, none nor all were enough to drive away his demons. They never are. The material world only offers temporary relief, never true escape. Some think death is the only escape. They are wrong, but it’s too late to convince them otherwise. So we are left with the reality of great talent gone too young, and with lessons.

We can’t bring Chester Bennington back and rescue him from his demons — nor other famous-musician suicides and overdoses who have preceded him across generations, such as: Bennington’s good friend Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Audioslave), or Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots), Prince, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Jimi Jamison (Survivor), Jonathan Melvoin (Smashing Pumpkins), Michael Jackson, Rick James, Mike Starr and Layne Staley (Alice in Chains), Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Mindy McCready, Steve Clark (Def Leppard), Pete Farndon and James Honeyman Scott (The Pretenders), Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake and Palmer), Tommy Bolin (Deep Purple), Bon Scott (AC/DC), John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Sid Vicious (Sex Pistols), Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison (The Doors), Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and far too many more. Not even music could light the way out. In many ways, the band lifestyles that came with that musical talent actually influenced them deeper down the hole.

If these deaths accomplish anything for those left behind, if they are not to be in vain, it should be in the form of lessons for the rest of us. One of those lessons is that the material world cannot fulfill us, by itself. Yet this keeps happening, in generation after generation, from the ’60s and before to today, as if we have learned nothing…nothing. What good is ‘having it all” if we’ve got nothing? The truth you haven’t been told is: all the world’s pleasures still add up to nothing in the long run. They’re never enough!

We all have our demons, vices, regrets. Bad stuff has happened to most of us, both at the hands of others and in self-inflicted ways. The world cannot — cannot!!! — make us happy. We have to choose joy, and sometimes it takes going through hell on Earth to get there. There is more to life than money, fame, or physical pleasure. Those feel good in the moment, but cannot complete you. What else is there? The answer to this question is where our paths to wholeness and joy must lead.


Yes, terrible things can happen that are out of our control. We’re loath to admit that although there is evil aimed at us by the world, we can decide our response to it. Make the right call before you’re too deep into depression or addiction to think straight.

Ladies or dudes alike, there are important truths in all this. These musicians are gone. It’s too late for them. However, it isn’t for you. They hated the world, thought the world had nothing more to offer. Do you? Maybe the world really has kicked you to the curb. That doesn’t mean your life is without purpose, or that you are worthless today. You still matter to someone, somewhere — today, and in the future. I promise this, even if it’s not any “someones” that presently come to your mind.

If you are enduring depression or addiction, seek professional help. And right now, if you are suicidal, call this number: 1-800-273-8255. Visit this website, immediately.

If not for yourself, do this for the sake of those who do care about and have tried to help you (even if you don’t think they care now). Truth is, even folks who do care might not know how to help or what to do, so they back off, not out of hate or disregard, but out of a fear of making things worse or doing harm to you. Having felt helpless in the face of suicidal and addicted friends and loved ones, I know that is the truth.

And I firmly believe there is someone bigger than all of us who does care. If you are so inclined at all, please pray to be shown a living way out of your living hell. Even if you don’t believe, or used to and lost hope and faith, what can it hurt to cry out for help? I believe you will be shown a way out, or that you have already and you’ll see it. I also believe that you do and will matter to someone, today and in the future. You may not even know it (or them) yet.

Take a chance on life, not death. Many others have: real people who have been to that darkest of places and survived even attempts on their own life. They know. They have been there, and here you’ll find some of their stories. If you have lost a friend or loved one to suicide, you are not alone — visit this site.

By virtue of seeing this, you know it’s not too late. Make the call, visit the sites, pray, and open up to turning this around.


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