Friday, February 7, 2014

Where Demons Tread

Man's enemies are not Demons,
But Human Beings like Himself.
- Lao Tzu

The worst news I heard on Super Bowl Sunday had nothing to do with the beatdown that Peyton Manning and his Broncos teammates took at the hands of Pete Carroll's marauders from the Pacific Northwest - although I think the Legion of Boom nickname is the best group-football nickname I have heard in twenty-plus years.  Instead it was the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Hoffman was an exquisitely talented actor and, based upon nothing but the countless plaudits I read in the day or two after his death, a genuinely nice man.  He was only forty-six.  Huh, I know a guy who I see every day who - up until Monday of this week - was also forty-six years old.  When folks in my age group die, it gets my attention.  

Sadly, it appears as if Hoffman died at his own unintentional hand - the victim of a self-inflicted, accidental drug overdose.  I know scant little of his off-screen life - and knew even less until I started to read about in connection with his death - but apparently he had waged a rather pitched battle against substance abuse for a number of years.  If reports of the role that heroin played in his death are accurate, then the battle was one that he ultimately lost.  He and his long-time girlfriend/companion had three children.  The world at large has lost a tremendous artistic talent.  Our loss is negligible.  A family has sustained a far more grievous injury. 

Each and every one of us has a demon with which we do battle.  If we are truly fortunate, then it is just one.  And if we are truly, truly fortunate then it is a demon that - even if it draws blood now and again - we can contain and can control.  Not all of us can.  

It may bear remembering - or perhaps not - that whether you are talking to someone who is a stranger or someone who know as well as - if not better than - anyone else you have ever known, you know not everything that is going on in the life of anyone else.  His shoes are his - not yours.  They may look alike but they are not.  No two wear patterns are the same.  

And even if you think you should, there is really no way for you to know the tread life that he has left on his. 


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