jueves, 21 de mayo de 2009

Man Down

This piece was done last year, to mark the passing of a troubled friend. But it has a certain resonance right now, as we are losing another friend, and the process is slow enough for our horde-like family to gather and celebrate before the fact. And, since that was more-or-less the point of the original piece, it seems quite appropriate to put it up now.

Our community has suffered several losses lately, as friends and colleagues continue to pass away. And the philosopher’s words are truth – when one of us dies, the loss belongs to all of us. When that death is a suicide, the loss is felt more keenly, and it does not matter whether that is so because of a young life cut short, or the waste of human potential for love and artistic endeavor and all that makes life human, or because each of us has a secret place for our sorrow and feelings of despair that is touched by the untimely and intentional death of another.

In some rooms, suicide is called ‘a permanent solution to a temporary problem,’ suggesting that the act is like wrecking a car because it has run out of gas. Just keep in the game, this thinking goes, and something will happen to change the play in your favor.

My own take on it is a bit different: suicide is ‘a temporary solution to a permanent problem,’ because – no matter what religion or spiritual creed one follows – we are going to have to deal with the effects of that action… and the lack of diligence in working out the original problem in the first place.

Several years ago, a film was made here that dealt with that theme – What Dreams May Come – and though the film was not overtly Christian, it still espoused a Christian notion of Heaven and Hell. Not all of us believe in that model of the universe, and some of us believe in kharma and rebirth to work through spiritual issues. And clearly our religions, whatever we may call them and whatever they may tell us about ‘afterlife,’ are giving us the same message: stick it out, deal with it, make progress, and find a happy reward when you are pulled from the game.

I don’t judge suicide – everyone has their reasons for what they do, and perhaps that kind of passage is part of their larger destiny to end their own lives. But I feel the waste and sadness of a life cut short; I feel the same way many of us felt several weeks ago – that I could have, would have done something to help a friend and colleague in pain. The death of one of our community is our loss in common, and my mind and heart goes to what we can do about that situation in the future, before the next time, perhaps to prevent it for some one of our dear friends.

I’ve lost several friends this year, and the older I get the fewer living friends and the more dead ones I have. The last few years have seen a number of old-timers leave our ranks as well, and it’s never easy to say goodbye to friends or loved ones. Some years ago, I lost the last friend I will ever have who was twice my age, and that came as a shock, to realise that people just don’t live long enough to be twice my age. Maybe that’s why I have friends half my age, eh?

So what’s this piece about anyway? What’s my narrative here? Well, I’d like to suggest that we honor each other, doing something now, while the person can know we care and feel the depth of that caring, and perhaps avoid standing in a redwood grove on a foggy morning talking about how we might have helped.

Let’s help now – let’s throw surprise parties or call one another up with invites to spontaneous, wacky jaunts to the racetrack or to inner-tube on the river, or even to go hiking down to the beach.

Or this: inviting friends to watch films we like; we discuss film and the business so much that it would be good to take the time to see a film we like with people we like and afterwards discuss over dinner the film, and life, and all things that make it swell.

We live in a kind of paradise, surrounded by wonderful people, privileged and blessed with things and skills and gifts that 95% of the world envies – so why not show our gratitude and spread a little of the love around before our bus arrives?

Just sayin’.

David Hakim is an assistant director, producer, and publicity expert who developed campaigns for every major Hollywood studio and handled publicity for the Motion Picture Academy. Find him in the Reel Directory online: www.reeldirectory.com.

All material copyright 2008 David Hakim and may not be duplicated - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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