culture

Great unhappiness

February 4, 2014

PSHPhilip Seymour Hoffman died from a yet-to-be-confirmed drug overdose on Sunday. I have been irrationally affected by this. He was my favorite my actor, but I didn’t know him personally; this hasn’t stopped me from crying almost non-stop for the last two days. This is extreme. I’m really upset–as in I’m heaving and crying while I right this. Now, this, of course, leads me to ask myself, “Why?” And after contemplating it, I think I know. 

I don’t know anything about Mr. Hoffman other than what I’ve seen from him and read about him, but I am going to venture a guess that he dealt with depression. (He’s talked openly about his struggles with alcohol and drug addiction.) Yes, I am putting my own story on him, but isn’t that what we do with actors? Don’t the good ones make us see ourselves in them through their performances? I’ve read in his interviews that Mr. Hoffman really wanted to be a great actor. And he was great, maybe one of the greatest. I think we can all agree on that. So, I wondered why the drive to be great. Maybe because he though it would make him happy and fulfilled. He would be able to do the work he wanted to do, to be well respected, to be loved. And he did get to do the work he wanted to do, he was respected, he was loved. But he wasn’t happy. And I think this is why his accidental death is so devastating to me.

I wanted–or want, depending on the day–to be a great singer. I’m a really good singer. I want to be a great singer because I feel like if I am, I’ll be able to do the work I want to do, be well respected, and loved. I believe this will make me feel happy and fulfilled. I struggle with depression, and when I look at someone like Mr. Hoffman, I feel crushed by the realization that even if I reach greatness, I still won’t be happy. I don’t think he was a great actor because he was unhappy. I think his unhappiness was just the catalyst that drove him to be great. It’s powerful.

I’m so very sad for his children, his family, friends, colleagues. He seemed liked a genuinely wonderful person. I’m sad for his pain. I’m sad for the amazing work he might have done. I’m sad for all of the people who suffer from addiction, which is a disease that we all too often shame and dismiss as a choice.

photo credit: via esquire.com
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1 Comment

  • Reply Gerbs February 4, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    The good die young. Selfishly, I’m glad we’re both shy of being that good.

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