I’m A Fan Fridays! (Sunday morning edition)

HowtosuceedHey folks!  I’m sorry to have been so neglectful of late.  I’ve been so busy getting ready for this job that I just started the other day.

On Thursday, I flew into Vero Beach, Florida to begin a production of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying at the Riverside Theatre (and boy, are my arms tired!!…I know, I know…)

In honor of this Pulitzer Prize winning musical, I’ve decided to share just a clip if this wonderful show.  Here is the Tony Awards performance of the 2011 revival of this classic thing of beauty.  Enjoy!

(And, yes…that is Harry Potter!)

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Follow Scott on Twitter: @scotylang

Questions, pain, demons, compassion, and love, always love

Philip_Seymour_Hoffman-1024x802-650x509I wasn’t sure how to, or even if I could, write about Philip Seymour Hoffman and how his death has affected me so deeply.

I just made a link from his name to IMDB.  See for yourself the way his prolific work impacted your life in some way.  Seen any of those movies?  Have any of them moved you at all?  Any of them have an impact on how you look at the world?  Well, several of them did for me.

The day he died, a friend of mine posted this on Facebook:

Oh, Philip Seymour Hoffman… Your performance in “Capote” single-handedly changed my opinion of the death penalty. No, we never met, but your authenticity made me feel as though we had and based on what I’m reading today, I’m not the only one.

The word that struck me in that last sentence was, authenticity.  In all of his work, Hoffman was definitely that–Authentic.  I heard several interviews with him over the years and he always spoke about making choices for his characters that were honest.  Honesty and authenticity in his acting were hallmarks of what he left behind to the world.

He also left behind a great deal of confusion.

I’m going to do a bit of assuming here, but I’m not sure Hoffman meant to die; I don’t think he wanted to.  There was no note, no goodbyes as far I’ve read or heard.  I could be wrong, but as I grasp for answers regarding why this could happen, I want to hope.  I want to hang on to a hope that he never lost hope, but just lost his way and couldn’t get back.

Almost immediately after he passed, I read things on my social media feeds like, “How could he do such a thing?  He had it all!” or “How selfish!  Why do people feel like they have to turn to drugs?”  I understand the questions, however short-sighted they might be, but those are not the questions that came to my mind.  Among many were these:

What triggered you?  Did you know how much you were loved and admired?  Could you possibly know what kind of hole you would leave if you couldn’t come back from that needle?  If you did, did you just not care or were there just too many voices in your head keeping you from hearing how much you were needed here?

You were NEEDED here, Phil!

There are so many questions when anyone dies so tragically like this.  We ask the questions because we want answers.  We want sense to be made from the things that happen that are so senseless.  But the more questions I ask, especially about this particular death, the more I know that I don’t know shit.

Goddammit, Phil!  I’m so mad right now!

I want answers!!  I want answers that will not come, and I’m so sad.  I’m sad for your partner and your children; for your family and friends; for all of us who will never see the brilliance of what you were becoming.  You made the world better.  What you did mattered.  Can you hear me where you are?

I pray that you still had hope, Phil.  I pray that you had visions and dreams for your future right to the end.  I pray that you didn’t die in despair, not knowing if anything you did made any difference in this world, not knowing if you could keep on fighting the demons inside of you.

I know the urge to run away, to give up, to escape.  I know how it feels to need peace so badly that the consequences of getting just a moment’s worth of it make no difference if only that moment could come.  I pray that you have that peace now.

I don’t know what was going through Philip Seymour Hoffman’s head the day he took the heroin that took his life.  I do know that he lost his way, and I weep for him and for everyone who loses theirs.  This life is not easy.  It is so hard sometimes to even think about what it’s going to take to make it even one more day.  But all we can ever do is live this day while it’s here.  Tomorrow will come, if it comes, and then we’ll take that day.  One day and then another.  Just take this day.

If you’re still reading this post, dear reader, I want you to know that as I sit here typing this on my computer, I’m fighting my own particular demons.  And I know you are fighting yours.  You being alive is so vitally important in ways you do not even know, what you do matters, and you are never separated from love no matter what you might think.  Please look around you and if you can’t see it immediately, look harder.  Seek love out and it will find you.

I’m still here only because, somehow, the grace of God has allowed me to remember how much I’m loved and needed today.  Today.  We’ll see about tomorrow when tomorrow gets here.

Follow Scott on Twitter- @scotylang

I got a peaceful, easy feeling

cemetary1Not too long ago, I was walking through Princeton.  It was a perfect fall day weather wise, and the town is so beautiful this time of year.

I had a bit of time on my hands, and I decided that I wanted to spend it in some kind of thoughtful, perhaps even meaningful way.

There certainly were many options from which I could have chosen if “meaningful” were my goal, but my inclination was always, from the get go, to do something reflective.  I wanted to be thoughtful for a bit, focus a little, get some perspective.

cemetary

So, as I walked, I came upon a very peaceful cemetery just north of downtown.  I always feel a bit uneasy about cemeteries, not for the reasons you might think–ghosts, hands coming up from the ground and pulling me in, one-eyed caretakers with shovels, that kind of thing–but because of the extremely personal, sacred ground they are for a lot of people.

There’s another side to them, though, that fascinates me.  As I entered these particular grounds through the south gate, I almost immediately found a stone with a woman’s name and her dates underneath it (Abigail Williams 1935-2001), nothing unusual.  What made me pause, though, was her husband’s name next to her’s, but with only his birth date chiseled in (J. Robert Williams 1932- ) .  His death date was not yet known because, presumably, he is still alive.  That’s some kind of love.  It’s been twelve years and he is apparently still planning on keeping a date.  Some date.

I sat on the permanent bench, made from the same stone as the headstone.  He must come here still, I thought.  I wonder whether he’d mind if I’m sitting in his spot.

I looked around and then back to the stone once more.  I felt a breeze on my face and my heart felt easy. That’s some kind of love, I thought to myself, once more; a relationship that is still going strong, even with death as an inevitable adversary.

I thought of my own wife and my own children.  I thought of my friends and my extended family, my parents and brothers and their families.  I thought of my former students.  These are people I will always love, no matter what.  I was comforted by this thought.  I was comforted by this place.  I was comforted by Mr. and Mrs. Williams and I’ve never even met them.

Thanks, you two.  You still make a great couple.