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Philip Seymour Hoffman

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Philip Seymour Hoffman –


Philip Seymour Hoffman died with his conviction in his arm, hanging by a vein, for all the world to see.  He died as he lived… committed to his choices, his actions… his demons.  He knew the truth, and the truth set him free to follow his manifest destiny, in life and in death.  He was not cheated.  He lived, and died, life to the full.  He was beautiful… and ultimately, utterly fucked.  He was human.

As am I. 

In one of the I-lost-count-already number of Facebook posts (it is 11:19 a.m. Pacific Time as I write this) that inundated my news feed within the last hour of my Super Bowl Sunday morning… about the man’s untimely time and about his self-inflicted death… inevitably, one thread poster mentioned something about “self-medicating”.  True, I thought.  And truer, I thought next, that in some twisted respect, this famous dead actor was a braver man than I will ever be… if bravery can be measured in the foolishness of bad choices, based on a well-cultivated philosophy of “What the Fuck”.  My guess is, Philip Seymour Hoffman just had a bigger sack-full of “What the Fuck” between his legs than I do.  Because I’ve been told that I don’t know how commit to anything, and because, about a month ago, I took the coward’s way out, and handed back the keys to my addiction. 

Maybe I just wasn’t as committed to the part as he was.

Obviously, a man who died with a needle hanging from his arm knew more about pain than I ever could in ten lifetimes.  But the sources of what drives the addict (and there’s no better, harsher, truer word in the dictionary that fits him) to fill up on death as a daily comfort against the realities of life, shows that Philip Seymour Hoffman… actor, sufferer, human… was more committed to his truth, more sold to the role he portrayed, than I ever was. 

He died, committed to the pain. 

So now, as I finish this piece almost no one will read, about the sad end of a man so many people thought they knew but didn’t, I still have 8 unopened bottles of wine on my kitchen counter.  I mention the wine, only because I drank all the beer, the bourbon, and the tequila, and the wine was all that was left when I handed over the keys last month.  If those bottles get opened, they get opened.  For now, they stand… and/or lie on their sides in their rack… as a monument to how I almost lived up to the promise that Philip Seymour Hoffman fulfilled.  I guess I really don’t know how to commit to anything, after all.

What the fuck. 


© 2014 Bill Friday

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11 thoughts on “Philip Seymour Hoffman

  1. A true and truly unique in my experience perspective on the actor and his last act. Don’t follow his example to that extreme Bill.


  2. Remember when I was telling you that you didn’t need to be funny because your writing is so beautiful that it speaks for itself? Yeah, THIS post is why I said that. My favorite piece of yours so far. I hope to see more of the real Bill.


  3. This is just wonderful. Fantastic scope here – haunting, poignant, hands-in-the-dirt real. I was heartbroken by yet another premature death of an addict…famous or not, all deaths are sad. I think for me much of the shock lies in that many people don’t picture him as an addict – didn’t fit the profile society likes to provide as a barometer to measure up against. Same with alcoholics like me – you wouldn’t find me under a bridge chugging Scope, but I certainly have the same thing that the man doing so has. We all have that thing that drives us to the bottle, needle, line, etc.
    I think what you show here is a gripping snapshot of where we are in our dependencies. We feel that we fail in all ways, and then get a case of the “fuck it”‘s and bottles start getting cracked open. I look upon Philip’s death as yet another example of the illness not caring what’s in our bank accounts or what sits in the driveway, because in the end, it’s what’s stamped on our spirits and minds in the moment we get into oblivion. Over and over again.
    Wonderful piece. Thank you.


    • Paul,

      Nail on the head when you said, “… the illness not caring”. Caring is for humans. Also, when you say, “… didn’t fit the profile”, THAT’S when the caring of humans gets lost along the way. A wistful, even melancholy smile on the face of a “creative with a happy life” (successful career, critical acclaim, lovely wife, beautiful kids) hides what the addict inside wants it to hide, and almost nobody knows what the cracks in that image mean… way down deep. And usually, not until it’s too late.

      Thank you for pointing this out wherever you can. Your comments will always be welcome.


  4. runningonsober on said:

    Hi Bill, I’m glad Jen and Tonic mentioned your post. I’ve read it three times and I still feel it sitting in the pit of my stomach. Powerful writing, very powerful.
    You wrote: “He died, committed to the pain.” Maybe he did, but I’m not so sure. He’d been clean 20+ years, was trying to clean up again, was in and out of rehab. I’m not sure he was committed to anything. But his disease was sure committed to him.
    I think living clean and sober is the ultimate commitment. You accept the good. You accept the bad. The glorious happiness, the horrendous pain, and everything in between. It’s a commitment to life, to feeling, and even to pain.
    Thanks for writing this, you gave me a lot to think about. And again, you write beautifully. I’ll be following, Christy


    • Christy,

      Thank you for reading (and re-reading… sheesh!). What I’ve very recently come to understand is the every moment reality of addiction… and decision… in the stories of those who make that decision, one day, one minute, at a time. A decision, which seem so easy to those who have not had to make it while in the throes of addiction. A decision, which has to be made by flawed and broken human beings.

      Honestly, it’s a wonder anyone comes out whole on the other side.

      But I am so grateful for those, like you, who have shared YOUR stories with me these last couple of days since the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman. I’m honored that you shared a part of yours here.


  5. That could have been me, also. Keep those bottles of wine on the counter. They are pretty to look at. Nothing more. ❤


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