Monday, February 3, 2014

The Death of a Pleasure Seeker

A wonderful actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, died of a heroin and prescription drug overdose this week. My first thought was suicide. After all, the highly versatile and nuanced actor used his body like a violin prodigy playing a Stradivarius. Such extraordinary sensitivity in this up and down world could be crazy-making.

But he was about to direct a film with a wonderful cast. And everyone in Hollywood knows that directing is the cat's meow. He also had two more film roles inked in, and most importantly, three very young children - although in today's news universe, the young babies get minor billing compared to the film roles he will never get to play.

Given all the above, and knowing addicts both living and dead, my impression is that he was going for the super high, the high of all highs that passeth all understanding. Lest I be accused of cruel judgment, I know the power of chemical nirvana and how one could shipwreck on the shores of body wasted. Prescription pain pills mimic heroin and when I took them for major cancer pain, they not only dulled the screaming nerve endings but also caused a surge of euphoria and energy that was awesome. It was with great reluctance and a major upheaval of conscience that I told the doctor the happy pills were no longer necessary when the healing had commenced.

It is unfortunate that the world has lost a great talent, a significant other has lost a significant other, and three little children lost their father. But perhaps - and just perhaps because who am I to really know the inside story - this genius was not so smart after all but was among other things a coward and an escapee on the run. He was brilliant, but true brilliance knows the depth of the ocean and the still waters that lie beneath the turbulent surface.

His is truly a cautionary tale. For those who choose not to dive deep into their own suffering and live within the beauty that it can deliver, they will constantly be battling the waves of emotional turmoil. It requires courage and a big light to see one's way through those depths of darkness. The way is there for those who desire that knowledge. The supporting outstretched hands are there to help lift one up.

The real tragedy is that Philip Seymour Hoffman never found his match to help elevate him to the real, true, and pure heights.


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