Last weekend, amidst the Super Bowl wagers and cheese dip, we learned that Academy Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman had died at the age of 46 of an apparent drug overdose.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he was one of the greatest actors of his time, perhaps all time. As an artist, he was top of the tops. In his obituary The Guardian wrote that Hoffman “had three names and 3,000 ways of expressing anxiety.” He was truly one in a million.
Reaction to his passing was rife with shock and sorrow. He left behind his partner, costume designer Mimi O’Donnell, and their three young children.
In the wave of breaking news Sunday morning, the question of addiction quickly rose to the fore. How could someone of his calibre succumb to drugs? How could anyone with that kind of ability fall prey to something so soul robbing as heroin?
Yet we’ve seen it before with brilliant artists like Janice Joplin, Whitney Houston, John Belushi and Heath Ledger.
Drug addiction, addiction of any kind, is mere substitute for love and that pure, divine sense of self-acceptance and knowing that we are enough. It is something that fills that lonely, gaping, ugly hole many of us live with day in and day out. It could be alcohol or food or sex or shopping or gambling or the Internet; it doesn’t really matter.
Addicts may not even be conscious as to what their personal triggers are. Trauma that happens at a young age is unassumingly absorbed into the psyche. The feelings of self-doubt, loathing, emptiness, and unworthiness simply become part of one’s very being.
Addiction is about numbing that pain. Substances and vices soothe an emotional and spiritual deficit, the numbness temporarily acting as a warm blanket of compassion.
So what do we as a society have to offer to those who suffer? Sure, there are treatment and recovery programs, doctors and counselling — all of these are good — but what are we going to do about it in the grander scheme?
I believe we have to help people connect to their own divinity, their pure and magnificent nature. It’s something we are all born with but as time erodes us the cracks and pits become filled in by fear and shame and all sorts of ugliness that we learn to embrace because we have forgotten our beauty.
We need to remind ourselves, and others, of who we truly are. We need to stop distracting ourselves (with things, appearances and other people’s perceptions) from the real, humongous challenge that all humans face.
On Sunday I read over and over again “RIP PSH.”
We shouldn’t have to die to find peace. It’s in all of us somewhere. If we cared half as much about discovering that as we do about a football playoff game and its halftime entertainment, we could very well stumble upon Utopia.
Kirsten Andrews offers Simplicity Parenting courses, workshops and consultations in the Lower Mainland. The next weekly Simplicity Parenting next course in Squamish runs from Feb. 25 to April 15 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information or to register email email@example.com or visit www.SeaToSkySimplicityParenting.com.