Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for an episode of ‘Louie.’
Critically acclaimed and recently renewed for a fourth season on FX, the eponymous star fears the siren song of the edge. In “Daddy’s Girlfriend Part 2,” the fifth episode of the third season, a new romantic interest talks a reluctant and overweight Louie into a building with several flights of stairs to climb. When the two finally reach the top, Louie beholds a spectacular view of the city—while panting with his hands on his knees.
With such a sight to behold, Liz goes to the edge of the building to breathe it all in. Having regained his own breath somewhat, Louie goes to the edge as well and is terrified at the drop. He urges Liz away from the barrier that only reaches her knees, but she sits on the ledge and invites him over.
While watching I couldn’t help but echo Louie’s plea for Liz to move away from the edge.
Liz asks him, “Do you know why you’re scared?” to which Louie replied that she could fall and die, and that she should come to where it’s safer. Liz responds, “But the only way I fall is if I jumped. That’s why you’re afraid to come over here, because a tiny part of you wants to jump, because it would be so easy. But I don’t wanna jump … I’m having too good of a time.”
Maybe it was the smooth jazz in the background but I found her words captivating, and absolutely right.
How many of us could sit on the edge of the balcony and not feel a little inward urge to fall? Or to launch one’s self? Or to simply allow a weak cross-breeze to inspire our descent? It’s not simply that some of us can’t sit because we’re afraid that we’ll die. We’re afraid that we’ll acknowledge the desire to fall, and die.
Others, like Liz, simply wouldn’t do that because they’re having too good of a time. This does not necessarily mean that life is peachy and perfect, but that it is worthwhile to stay alive. As a result, all internal faculties will ensure that one would remain alive even when perched on the periphery looking over the lights of New York City. If you want to live no cross-breeze is going to push you off.
Louie is terrified of the height, and is completely unaware of the beauty. Only away from the edge he can appreciate it. At the edge, beauty is clouded out by an ideation to die. He is not afraid because Liz could fall. He is afraid because if that were him sitting on the ledge, he could fall. She has a reason to live, and watching the episode, seems quite alive to me. Louie has reason to live too, which is perhaps why he refused to sit with her. The difference is that she has no reason to die. Louie does.
If you are like Louie, afraid of the fall because you may very well want to, it’s time for some introspection. I began mine the minute after watching this episode. Are you like Liz, or like Louie?
In Canada and the U.S., the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Read more on Suicide.
Birds eye view from the Willis Tower courtesy of Shutterstock