Nobody ever really knows what is going on with another fellow human. One can appear to have it all, to be incredibly gifted, have a wonderful life, have great kids, be living one’s passion. And yet, one may be suffering at a level that nobody sees, unless the one suffering feels free to share. Most of us do not feel that free. We are afraid of how we might appear. We may be judged as narcissistic, egotistical, ungrateful, or just plain unaware. However, if you have such pain that is seemingly bottomless, like an abyss, it could be almost easier to just disappear and never bother another with your story, your lament, your life.
This morning, as I listened to the morning news on National Public radio, and heard that Phillip Seymour Hoffman had left us, I felt such sadness, such pain, for he always, with his performances as actor in films, grabbed me, shook me to the core, and made me glad I knew of him. Now, with his last act, again he shook me to the core. I recognized him. That he would hole up alone and try to disappear is something I fathom. He played different roles for us, but in the end, it was not enough, apparently. He missed something, perhaps. Who knows. My guess, and you could call it a “projection,” is that he did not love himself, accept himself unconditionally. I doubt that he was bored. Perhaps he judged himself too harshly. He had to have been highly intelligent. How else could he have been such a fantastic actor? The fact is, his dying made me realize how I must not take that route, that lonely path of desolation that leads to self-annihilation. That path leaves too many behind feeling confusion and loss, with possibly the weight of regret at not having been present enough in one’s life.
Perhaps I read too much in to this. Perhaps he simply had a strong need to just be alone for a while, to do something that this culture views as untoward, perverted. He perhaps did not really have that much control over his needs. In any case, losing him to another unseen dimension leaves many with questions that can never be answered. I can relate to the need to be alone, as well as the need to feed an addiction, without reproach. It occurs to me that in a way, I envy someone like this man who can take a leap without reservation into the unknown. Is that selfish? Can anybody really judge this sort of action? Where has Phillip Seymour Hoffman gone? He may be marveling at the beauty of the Infinite as we stay here, trapped in this “reality.” He is on his trip, free of a body, and gone to who-knows-where.
My initial response to the news may have been sadness and loss, but now that I think about it, I can see that, in the end, we all choose our paths, both in to this life, and out of it. This extraordinarily talented man made his decisions based on whoever he really was/is, and we in this world can only wonder. He is loved, nonetheless, and will not be forgotten, for he gave, truly gave, with so much depth. His passing just reinforces my sense that nobody every really knows what is going on inside another human.