in memoriam

image from hoffman's high school yearbook.

image from hoffman’s high school yearbook.

i spend so many of my waking hours contemplating the mystery of the human condition. what makes us tick, why do we do what we do? it’s the basis for almost all of my work.

it’s easy to follow the mighty heroes, but i’ve never been drawn to them, and i’ve sometimes experienced the indignity of “close” friends calling me weak for not following their leads.

i’m drawn to those who carry the burden of their wounds and transform it into beauty. those who show us how to be less fearful, not because they’re heroes, but because they’re survivors. their boldness comes from knowing that life is short, and that one must put one’s energy into the things that really matter: fellowship, passion, compassion, empathy, loyalty, beauty, friendship, generosity.

part of the human condition is that we can never truly know the burdens of another. a trust fund kid elicits less sympathy than a survivor of skid row – we celebrate slum dog millionaire more than the wolf of wall street – that’s for certain – yet who are we to presume that their sufferings are anything but equal? people suffer.

many of our greatest stories and mythologies are predicated on this suffering. our religions rally around it.

all of us, at one time or another, vow to make this world more bearable for the generations to follow: none of us want children to know suffering.

and so, today, i ponder the suffering of philip seymour hoffman. this man who is often portrayed as gentle, articulate and generous, but whom many of us knew must have had a mercurial side. why did he die this way? why didn’t he just stay alive another day so that he could wake up to the glorious snowfall that all of new york witnessed this morning?

what happened? why were the obstacles too great to overcome for him? why did he die alone? if he should go this way, if it all proved to be too much, the darkness too dark to bear, then what does this say about the rest of us?

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