Life // death.
The cyclical, inevitable dance of the human dichotomy that really truly, deep down and at the most root of levels, is where most substance abuse behaviors stem from.
As in, we use because life is too unbearable. Or because the idea of death is too terrifying. Call // response.
The harsh & unfortunate reality is that, like most other forms of long-term disease, alcoholism & addiction ultimately claim more lives than not. I consider it a ceaseless war, fought on a case-by-case basis through individual battles. So whenever there’s news of casualties in the trenches, whether I knew them very personally or not…it still feels like a brother-in-arms has fallen. The struggle is real, and the enemy has a far greater reach & far more powerful weapons than does The Good Fight.
I’ve seen a few good men go down already, in early 2015. None I would say I knew well enough to write any kind of an ‘in memoriam’ for, but given their respective battles I certainly can relate to their stories. I can’t say for sure that they were all relapse or overdose related, but they were indeed all bright, charming, and kind men in their early 30’s who have passed on from this earth.
One, a man I got to know for a few weeks during my time in rehab at Tully Hill. A gentler, more wholesome soul there was not. One, I had several months ago heard courageously & fearlessly share his story (including his subsequent turning point to success as a reputable tech coach here in Stamford, teaching all ages about the nuances of WordPress, the very platform that this blog is published on).
The third was in a bit of a different league, as his sudden & shocking death caught the national spotlight. I speak of Harris Wittels, longtime-producer & sometime-actor for one of contemporary television’s greatest workplace comedies. Here’s the thing: I confess that I’m not even all that familiar with his body of work. But I do follow with some attentiveness the circles of comedians that he ran in, and was a part of — and simply by reading through their reactions to the loss, I was immediately struck by how brilliant and yet how human this man was. He was a part of many genius-grade projects, from lending his voice on beloved podcasts about the merits of Phish as musicians to helping write one of the internet’s most prolific comedy interviews to coining the term ‘humblebrag,’ an instant-classic addition to the lexicon of the millennial generation’s online lingo. I didn’t know the man in the slightest, but the way that his community shared memories about him, making me feel like I did? That’s how I know we lost a good one.
Life is so complex, and so fragile. We are not long for this world, relatively speaking. And some of us, even less than that. Everyone wants to find the meaning in it all. And no one wants to feel the fear of it. Is that not the point, then? I’m starting to believe the meaning of life may be really, quite simple: to help others understand, that it’s totally OK & fine that we don’t understand. Is that not perhaps the only absolute on earth, that all people share a dip in the pool of? That no one knows the absolute meaning.
So don’t fucking sweat it. And if you see someone else out there who is, offer them a glass of water & a cool towel to dab their brow. Life is far too short & uncertain to be constantly dripping in it.
There is no such thing as ‘sure footing’ when you stumble down the slippery slope.
Lend your fellow man a hand up & away if you see him start to falter.