Monday, February 3, 2014

Timor Mortis Conturbat Me

I'm on the can, scanning the news on my phone, when I read he's gone, and the sudden stab of loss slips the phone from my fingers to thud on the rug. I chide myself for an overdramatic fool and pick it up to read the familiar story again: talent, hard work, drug use into abuse into rehab, overdose.

I remember meeting him once, before he'd done more than, I don't know, two movies maybe, shaking his hand, telling him how truly great I thought he was.

Later, as I'm walking down the street to pick up laundry, I think about the decision somebody makes - him, me, anybody - to go do that one thing you can't help doing, not knowing that this time, this is the time it kills you, steals you from the world and the people that love you, leaving the world a poorer, sadder place.


  1. Maybe even knowing this is the time that kills you. Kills you, and the pain, and the near-certainty of mediocrity, decrepitude, dotage.

  2. Not so sure about near certainty. Time is a goon, as they say, but ask Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Meryl Streep, Bruce Dern about mediocrity and dotage. You could have asked Peter O'Toole, Richard Harris, Katherine Hepburn, and many others, too, when they were alive. Age has many comforts, and many challenges, and none of them are certain but the grave.

    Certainty is what one seeks with drugs. One knows, within relative tolerances, exactly what one will get when one takes the pill, the drink, the hit, and there's a comfort in that that is at least as much a part of the addiction as anything else - familiarity.

    But that augury, that supposed knowing what comes next ("mediocrity, decrepitude, dotage") is hubris, albeit of a negative sort, and the desire to know a violence against oneself.

    The desire to get high is as universal as the desire for sex, or community, and some might say as hard-wired into the human psyche. But no one knows the future, and any willful pessimism about what is to come is only a cover for a deeper pain, a deeper condition, which drugs, while a good and sometimes necessary comfort, cannot heal. At the risk of speaking too far beyond what I know, I'd say that the only healing for life is living.