On my run this morning, I was thinking about how different people deal with life’s challenges. I’ve said before that working out is largely how I deal with loneliness, sadness, anger and frustration. It’s what got me through much of 2013, which was a hard year for me. It’s also how I make decisions, as I’ve found that time running, biking or swimming is often perfect time for thinking through an issue. I’m lucky that my coping method is largely a healthy one. Others aren’t so lucky. Why is that? 

I became concerned on Monday that my response to the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman lacked compassion. I hope that’s not how it was received. I don’t know what led him to the point of taking heroin initially, getting clean or returning to it years later. I didn’t live his life. In the past, I’ve been clear in saying that we can’t know what it’s like to live another person’s experience. I want to be clear about that now.

I don’t know how Philip Seymour Hoffman got to the point of dying with a needle in his arm. I hate that he did. I hate addiction. I hate and fear drugs. I’m angry at the loss and the manner of the loss, but I am not angry at the dead. I ache for him, both for the loss of him and for what he experienced – whatever he struggled with – that got him to the point of death by heroin. I hope that was clear in my words.

4 thoughts on “Compassion.

  1. Enjoyed the link to your Lance Armstrong commentary. Didn’t know you had written a letter to the editor about him. Totally agree that we can never completely know what it’s like to walk in any other’s shoes. Also think the suspension of judgment is a necessary goal for almost every single one of us. “Let he who is without blame cast the first stone,” I believe the verse goes? At the same time, there appear to be certain personalities out there who, by the objective, verifiable and factual evidence of their behaviors, are over-the-top narcissistic or hubris-filled individuals. One of the indicia I look for is lack of remorse, even in the face of complete vulnerability and exposed guilt. Lance’s interview with Oprah didn’t seem to evince much remorse or regret, certainly not in any emotional or heart-felt sense. The same is true for Bernie Madoff, who by all accounts, still hasn’t as much as apologized from his jail cell well into serving his sentence. I think the Greeks had it right – unchecked hubris eventually leads to a certain downfall. All the more reason we should ultimately pity or have compassion for these lost souls…

    Your thoughts??

    • Amit, the lack of remorse issue is a tough one. I agree that I appreciate seeing it, but I don’t know if the lack of expression also amounts to the lack of experience? Is it possible people experience remorse but can’t express it for some reason, legal or otherwise? I don’t know. I guess I want to believe people experience it even if they can’t or do let us know that they do.

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