One man has drawn his last breath.
Philip Seymour Hoffman.
I checked my Twitter feed last night before going to bed, where I then would have read some more. The tweets informing me of his passing were two hours old then. I was truly shocked and upset.
He was a fantastic actor and by all accounts a good man. Everyone on Twitter was just as shocked and upset. A great talent lost.
No doubt his name will be “trending” for the rest of today and likely tomorrow.
What got me was how quickly the topics in my feed moved on. I’ve noticed this before: Uproar one moment, a light-hearted joke, some promotion or random piece of news next. All in a day’s work.
The disconnect between those two is almost as shocking and upsetting as the news that cause shock and upset. There is a part in us that wants to stop and hold the world still for a moment, because a piece in it, maybe in us, broke. How can the world just keep moving when something fundamental just happened? Be it happy, be it sad.
No, we say, hold on. A life ended. A precious life ended. That needs to be acknowledged and contemplated for longer than just 140 characters.
Well, I suppose not on Twitter. The world keeps spinning on its axis, racing around the sun and with it around the galaxy in an expanding universe; it is a fast ride we’re on, after all. We go elsewhere to do the contemplating.
And then, of course, there is the fact that I feel more upset about his passing then hearing about a bomb exploding somewhere in Afghanistan or Iraq or Syria. Those news are horrible and upsetting and daily and remote. And they happen to strangers. My emotional investment in these atrocities, whoever is committing them, is different than my emotional investment in the death of a single actor, whom I’ve admired a great deal.
The murder of civilians in war zones is far more horrible than somebody’s accidental drug overdose. And it’s not so much a matter of who these things happen to, because I don’t know any of these people, they are faceless for the most part, but more a matter of the fact that these suicide attacks and shootings and what-not even happen.
How it is possible for these things to happen is what I find most upsetting. I am, perhaps naively, of the opinion that they shouldn’t. And that people shouldn’t let these things happen.
But let’s not run off on a tangent that I can never reach the end of. I was merely trying to add a perspective.
Life is fast and it can be furious. It’s not given to everyone to handle both or either. I don’t think, though, that it is given to anyone of us to judge those, who can’t handle it. I would consider this universally applicable.
The only thing that should be a given is our capacity to help and reach out.
Do I consider Justin Bieber a complete tool for drunk driving? Absolutely. Do I believe he needs help and should be offered it? Absolutely.
Do I believe that drugs and/or alcohol solve anything? No, not all. Any oblivion they offer can only ever be temporary. Should those addicted to both or either get help? Yes, of course.
But any help offered, needs to also be accepted.
I will hold your hand as long as I have the strength to do so and even when it leaves me, I will try and hold on. But you need to do your part, too. If you let go, I may not be able to catch you.
There are some mistakes that we never get the chance to regret. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death is likely going to be ruled an accidental overdose. He is not the first and won’t be the last. I wish he wouldn’t have let go of the hand that was trying to hold him. I can’t imagine that no hand had been proffered.
So, whatever you do, whoever you are, the one holding onto someone to help, or the one in need of help, hold on and keep breathing.