Featured Insights — 22 May 2014

Vandana on recent news of well-known women’s suicides.

Checking in on a Jetstar flight to Bali last July I struck up an airport conversation with a woman standing ahead of me in the line.

Another passenger had just asked me a question about her skin and then this dark-haired glamorous creature, of similar vintage to myself, wearing a one shoulder black outfit with spike heeled thigh high boots – at 8am in the morning – expressed an interest in skin products and treatments and thus proceeded a short conversation.

She said she worked in fashion. I didn’t recognise her while we were talking but when we exchanged Christian names and she said hers was Ruth. I said, “Oh, did you used to be in Myer [Australian department store]?” Because I remembered her appearing on the women’s fashion floor when I was working there in the late 90’s as a personal shopper. She said, “Oh yes, a long time ago.”

She said she’d like to come to our clinic so I gave her a business card. After proceeding through check-in I saw her again only in the distance and then went, “Of course, Ruth Tarvydas!’ – remembering who she was. She had mentioned she was on a work visit to Bali, staying in Seminyak. I hoped to see her again as I really liked her, whereas in the old Myer days she had seemed to me a bit of a weirdo always dressed in head to toe black with peculiar headwear, a vacant expression and long gothlike hair concealing her face.

Aging gracefully

Ruth never visited our clinic. Yesterday she was found dead on the road outside the apartment block in East Perth where she lived on the 14th floor. She was 66 years old, my age.

I immediately thought as I did when Le Wren Scott recently suicided, that maybe they didn’t want to grow old, couldn’t face the physical decline, the loss of independence.

Both these fashion designers were single women, highly identified with their careers and fashion empires, both of which were in decline, and both designers owed large amounts of money to banks and creditors. The debt factor, the fading success of onetime style icons, is what the press are describing, yet I think these women maybe didn’t want to grow old.

Leaving early is always an option in my book. I don’t really get all the drama about suicide. If life becomes miserable or just ceases to be interesting and you have no immediate family, particularly children, why not leave ahead of your schedule and avoid the disintegrations and humiliations of old age with no one to take care of you?

I wonder if Ruth was loved just for being Ruth. At the airport I had the impression of a fragile and lonely person, warm, intelligent yet with an aura of sadness. Thinking back to when I saw her in previous years and then again at the airport, Ruth always had a rather ghostly aura around her – which I’d thought was a whiter shade of makeup.

I am sorry I did not get a chance to know her, yet respect her decision to not drag on in this world.

When I think of the approaching time when I am no longer able to work and my funny little career as a skin therapist comes to an end I sometimes get a little anxious.

I will be 100% dependent on a retirement pension with no immediate family to care for me, or more important care about me. I have been career focussed and work identified most of my adult life, despite achieving very little success at anything! Workaholic has been a fair description.

And yet maybe my lack of success is a blessing! I am sure it is and am very grateful to have never achieved any kind of stardom or celebrity. Because I have no face to lose.

And in these ‘later years’, finding myself rather alone and isolated, work being my life’s major activity (bordering-obsession), the clearly narrowing path and shrinking horizons don’t daunt me because I had the great fortune 40 years ago in my 20’s to meet an extraordinary spiritual master, and in 7 years of intense ‘investigation’ living in Osho’s Pune ashram had all sorts of ego stuffing knocked out of me and notions of status, success and celebrity blown away.

Not only do I have no impulse to jump off a building, I find the gift, the opportunity of this life, frequently uncomfortable yet so intriguing and intense in its daily lessons and adventures that I hope to see out my schedule to its very last moment.

Blessings, Ruth T, already free!

Vandana

Photo credit www.littlepinkbook.com

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