Monday, February 03, 2014

Links in a Broken Chain

I'm trying so hard to gather all these thoughts into paragraphs. But  real life tragedy is much more difficult to organize than the literary kind.

An addict isn't any more weak or wicked or villainous or sinful than a sober person. An addict is just someone who hurts, and is willing to try anything to create some space between their heart and the pain.

I don't believe that great artists necessarily become addicts because of their genius or their capacity for deep feeling. But I do think people who feel deeply often turn to art as a way to try and make sense of the feelings that the world has no other place for. And addicts feel both joy and pain to an unbearable degree.

Stations of the Cross, #9 Jesus Falls a Third Time
John Ilg

It is both inexcusably naive and terribly cruel to sit in judgement of another's inability to stand up under the weight of their own cross. Or to judge their cross based on the weight of your own.

Suffering is not currency. There are no mitigating circumstances that make a celebrity's pain worth less than a homeless junkie's. And no, you would not trade a day of  your life for Philip Seymour Hoffman's.

The difference between hiding inside a gallon of ice cream or a fifth of bourbon or a 60 hour work week or a carton of Marlboros or a needle full of smack is only one of degree. It's just that you don't find dead food junkies with a needle full of Krispy Kremes hanging out of their arm.

Accepting that you are powerless is not the same thing as admitting you are a victim. There's a reason there are TWELVE steps to sobriety, not just one.

Addicts have children. They have parents. Friends. Lovers. Mentors. Neighbors. Fans. And while death is the end of an addict's suffering, it is the beginning of a whole new chapter of pain for the ones left behind.

It is very hard not to hate the people we love, for not loving themselves more.

Death ends a life, but it does not end a relationship, which struggles on in the survivor's mind toward some resolution which it may never find. ~ Robert Anderson

The only way for tragedy to have any meaning is if we make it a source of courage, of compassion, of inspiration. Watching "Capote" made me want to be a better actor. I need learning and writing about the death of this blessed but unhappy man to make me a better friend, son, lover, and brother.

Linda, Willy, Biff
New York Daily News
I am sad that I won't get a chance to see your Willy Loman, or your Torvold, or your Lear. I am sad that I won't ever get to shake your hand and thank you for the hours I spent in dark cinemas, my jaw slack with amazement at your work.  I am sad that your life was so very full of suffering. But deep down, I'm glad that you are finally free from the pain. 

If I seem a bit confused and scattered about my feelings, it may be because deep, deep down, there is a secret part of me that envies your freedom just a little bit... And that scares the living shit out of me.

I am alive. And you are dead. And that doesn't say a damn thing about you or about me. All I know is that the only reason I'm not in that hole with you is that God sent me people who loved me and showed me that my life was worth loving. And before I throw my little handful of dirt onto the box and turn back toward the world that tore your heart apart... I just want you to know that your struggle makes me want to live even more... to love even more... and to be a source of the kind of hope and courage that you, my brother, were never able to find. Just in case the next PSH crosses my path one of these days...


No comments:

Post a Comment