I can’t stop thinking about Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
I’m seeing a variety of commentary online, mostly in homage to his stellar acting career (which I stop to read) and the occasional snark regarding his heroin addiction. Like it’s something he chose to do: die. Like it’s something he had full control over with all of his senses. Like it’s something he wanted to leave his children for.
I also got to thinking about some of my own self sabotaging choices this morning and along with it my 2014 compass :
Does this make you weaker or does this make you stronger?
Aha moments are called moments because they don’t necessarily inform your entire lifepath…or even the rest of your day. They are peak experiences and bring you information long buried or hidden that you can now utilize, in a new or old way.
Yet they don’t pick you up right where you are and transport you to the Promised Land of Nirvana exempting you from any struggle or learning curves along rocky paths.
A compass isn’t a tool which allows you, while lost in the wild, to look at once and set you on a such magical course that you never need to consider your sense of direction ever again.
A compass, if you’re smart, is something you remember you have in your pocket.
Then smarter yet, you remember you have the capability to put your hand in your pocket, grasp it and pull it out.
Then, if you’ve grown a bit of wisdom, you will remember how to use it.
And finally, in a more intermediate stage of development, you choose to do just that.
You can actually get that far to be standing there, lost, holding that compass in your hand will full memory and knowledge of it’s effectiveness; yet choose to slide it right back in, unused, and take the path you think is best.
Until the next fork in the road.
I did that just this week. In fact, I operated on so much bad habit and lack of conscious thinking that I forgot about my compass entirely.
But not for long. My compass reminded me this morning of itself as I walked down my staircase getting ready for my day. Ohyeah, I said to the second to last step. That.
Compasses are built for sturdiness for a reason. They are designed to withstand all kinds of weather conditions and general abuse. Yet, in their simplicity, they remain always at the ready to point to True North.
I’m thinking this morning that the trick of having a compass is to know there will be times that you forget about it. Times that you will remember it and willfully choose to not use it. Times that you will damn that thing thinking you know the way yourself much better. Times you will not remove it from your pocket because you know it knows the way much better yet you want to go your own direction. Again, and again.
Yet you don’t throw that compass away. And it doesn’t suicide itself out of your pocket and throw itself off a rocky cliff due to the despair of neglect.
It waits patiently for your memory. My memory.
And it quietly does it’s job. Which is merely providing information.
It informs then slips away quietly back to it’s warm soft bed close to your femoral heartbeat.
Minding it’s own business.
For you to remember.
To let it do the one function it gives it’s whole life to you for.
To be your guide.
I’m thinking, Mr. Hoffman, mistakes were made. Sometimes they go too far but not usually. I think we are given chances upon chances to check ourselves.
I can’t stop thinking about the role you played in Magnolia and the healing you facilitated. Not just for the characters in the movie but for all those who watched it and walked through the popcorn soaked lobby with tear stained faces afterward.
I’m going to watch that movie again this weekend. While holding my compass and with a heart of appreciation. No judgment for your choices nor my own.
And thanking my life for sparing me a few more rocky cliffside paths to navigate.
And the opportunity to keep choosing stronger.