More Thoughts on the Passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman

Many people go to the movies, for example, but few people realize the commitment, dedication, and sacrifice that the people who create the movies give so others can have a few minutes of entertainment. Next time you watch a movie, please take a moment and think about all the big and little creative acts that went into putting it on the screen for you. And when you do, please remember that being creative can be hard and it can be painful, just like an addiction. When a creative member of society dies as a result of an overdose, society mourns the loss of that creative spirit on this stage called life. In doing so, we should focus on mourning the human artist, not the celebrity.

Very few people pursue celebrity for celebrity’s sake. It is a by-product created by society and imposed on someone pursuing their craft. Society recognizes talent and creativity and then places it on a pedestal considered unattainable by “mere mortals.” But really . . . it all started, for example, with some kid who tried out for a high school theatre production and got cast, or another who wrote a story or a poem some teacher praised, and the addiction to art takes hold, and the person needs their “fix” of creativity.

Creative expression, then, is the actual drug of choice. It is hard to explain, but there is a high involved in the creative act that surpasses all others. And sometimes that expression can also be painful and sometimes creative people drink or take drugs to cope with the pain and sometimes as the creativity is still pulsing through that person’s veins, so, too, is the substance. And the real battle is to see which wins . . . the creative expression or the consumption of drugs.

And sometimes, that battle leads to addiction. Addiction is not a choice. No one wakes up in the morning and thinks, “today I will become a heroin addict.” Addiction is created when one thinks he or she can take the edge off of whatever pain they are experiencing and the substance becomes like a burr one cannot remove from one’s clothing.

In the end, we are all doing our best, howsoever others perceive us. In practicing that recognition, then, we can sow the seeds of compassion and empathy, that when our own mortal frailties are exposed, we, too, are treated with compassion and love. Namaste!

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