What we can learn from the falling man

Look at the famous picture below. You might have heard of it.

image
The falling man: By Richard Drew

It’s called the falling man.[1]

You might wonder why he is jumping to his death?

What you can’t see is the fire.

That building in the background, it’s the world trade center. The date: September 11th, 2001.

When we can see the fire, we understand why he is jumping to his death. He does not want to jump any more than you and I. His fear of death is no less.

He jumps because there is a terror far greater than the fall. The fire.


What if you and I could not see the fire?

Does that mean it isn’t there?

What if the blaze has been smouldering for years, only hidden from sight?

You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt the flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling

David Foster Wallace

Why do people commit suicide?

Because they are jumping from a terror worse than death.


There is always hope and a better life on the horizon for each of us.

But when I cannot understand why someone “jumps”, I remind myself that just because I cannot see the fire, it doesn’t mean it’s not burning.

Published in Psychology, Philosophy, Stories
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