When we see the end result, we think that is all there is
In my post yesterday about the book The Longest Way Home by actor, director, and travel writer Andrew McCarthy, I admired how he shared his inner dialog and reveal his human flaws. I am inspired by those who are able to move beyond their inner struggles and find a way to release their souls and desires out into the world. In this book, Mr. McCarthy shares whatever messy, unformed, and unflattering thoughts and actions he takes. This itself takes a kind of courage that few possess.
When we see an actor in a movie, we think they have all their shit together. But they don’t. In order to grow, they still need go through a process of self-discovery, reflection, and experimentation. This never ends. Even when an end result is achieved, that does not mean they are relieved from this process any more. We fixate on the person as some kind of immovable, all-knowing object that has obtained something we will never have. But that could not be further from the truth.
Having it all is not the answer
As I mentioned yesterday, I am not much of a movie goer. I have been reading blog and news posts about the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman because of a drug overdose. Although I try to avoid entertainment media outlets, lately I have found myself reading a few of the more positive blogs about his passing.
One blog that I found via WordPress is Flavorwire. Michelle Dean authored an excellent piece today on what his passing means to her and what it should mean to the rest of humanity. Referencing his movie Synecdoche, New York, Ms. Dean suggests that the complicated, unfinished plot in the movie is parallel to the complicated, unfinished life of Mr. Hoffman and for all of the rest of us as well. Using her analogy, we are all waiting on the bench dreaming about when our fantasy life will come together and our messiness will be over. But having a successful movie career, a spouse, three kids, and a place to live apparently are not enough to quell whatever pain lived inside Mr. Hoffman. Nor will having it all be the solution to end all pain that we feel. No, that will only occur after we have died. I hope Mr. Hoffman is getting the peace that he wanted.
Even being on the right path is difficult work
Russell Brand is a recovering drug addict who has been clean for 10 years. In response to a lot of press condemning Mr. Hoffman’s cause of death, Mr. Brand wrote a Guardian UK post explaining to those without a history of drug addiction what it means to be a recovering drug addict. Disappointment, melancholy, sadness, and other similar feelings can spark a spiral of emotional pain that drives the user back to the pill or the needle, anything to wipe out the pain inside.
I have my minor addictions, nail biting and sugar. I know what it feels to be driven to eat candy for sugar’s sake or bite my nails until I can dampen the compulsion to cover up what I am feeling inside, or until I have no nails or cuticles or hangnails left to nibble.
Whether it is Mr. Brand or myself, putting an end to an addiction or making a major in one’s life is difficult work. It moves forward like a river of Nutella. You take one step forward, two steps back, and then run forward at full speed. Then you stop. Maybe you get distracted and look at the scenery for a long time, long enough to forget what it was your were doing there in the first place.
No one has it all.