Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Philip Seymour Hoffman
It's been a while since I wrote here. I was traveling, working in Paris and Barcelona. Lucky me. I heard about Philip Seymour Hoffman's death while I was in Paris. I never met him, didn't know anything about him, personally. But, I liked his work. I liked his spirit. I was caught off guard by his death. I had no idea that he suffered so much. I grew up around a lot of people who suffered, some of whom committed suicide. But, his type of suicide is like Marilyn, or John Belushi, people who have everything most people dream about wanting. And yet, they are unhappy, and they eventually succeed in destroying themselves. But, Hoffman had a family, seemed to have a stable life, which none of the other's did. It makes it more tragic to me. Because, he had children, a home, a partner for life. What on earth was wrong? Why couldn't he find peace? Certainly, anyone who truly lives will suffer. Life is hard. Most people live lives of quiet desperation. But, artists have moments in which they celebrate life. They have pleasure in their work, in their creativity, dreaming, making their dreams come alive. They share their vision of life, living true, at least in their work. And yet, it isn't enough. Something deeper, some sadness in the depths of them, some feeling of not being loved, not loving themselves, overrides whatever success, in work, in life, that they may have. The unhappiness eats away at the foundation of their lives, until they crumble. Seeing this, how does one define what success is? How does one know what satisfaction is enough that one feels that one's life is worth living. This cannot be measured mechanically, despite what many people want to believe. For certainly, life is not about the garnering of riches and wealth, or awards, or even recognition, important as that is. Life is about the pleasure of living, of enjoying breathing, at least some of the time. That pleasure cannot be measured. It cannot be made into a law. It cannot be imposed. It must be desired, worked for, and earned. How much life do we waste, really, in fantasizing about what will make us happy. We spend billions of dollars a year seeking pleasure, most of which is like sugar that dissolves instantly, and lasts less that a moment. Life, after all, is not what we strive for in the future, or what we regret from our past. But, what we do in the moment. Life is now. After all, if some of those who died had taken one more breath, they would not have died. I have many friends, and family, who believe in reincarnation. Personally, I have difficulty believing that the human being is the only reality in nature that lives eternally. I am more inclined to believe in recycling, in which all my memories, all my knowledge, floats in the Universe, and eventually becomes part of some new life, object, plant, animal, earth, sky, water, consciousness, whatever you want to imagine life to be. Certainly, it is far more beautiful than the mechanical world that many believe the Universe to be. After all, we dream, we imagine, we transform life. It is so sad to think that someone as fortunate as Philip Seymour Hoffman was unable to feel enough satisfaction in the life that he had to want to keep living it. Certainly, I do not know what his life was like. I can only look at a series of realities. But still, it is sad that what he had was not enough to overcome whatever wounding he suffered that he never seemed to recover from. If in fact reincarnation does exist, or if there is a place where what is left of us after we die go, I hope that he will find the peace that he sought to numb his pain. I do believe that some people really suffer so much that they do not want to continue living. I do not believe that he was one of those. But, what I say here comes from the pain I feel at his loss, at the waste of a life that brought us pleasure and insight into ourselves. I only wish that he could have healed himself, so that he could have had some of the satisfaction in life that he so well deserved.