Sunday, February 2, 2014

Creativity's Curse

It is often said that those of us who are creative have a gift. We are able to see the world through a different lens, and then, somehow, share what we see with others. For some of us that creativity is an easy gift, one we thrive with and through. A gift that allows us the joy of manufacturing something no one else can from nothing but the materials we find around us. We see the beauty of a particular shade of red in a sunset which becomes the flame of a fire that dances up a white dress turning it into charred feathers. Or the teal of the Gulf which becomes the brilliant blue streaking the eyes of a mermaid. Then there are the bare limbs of a tree imitating the skeletal arms and legs of a zombie. This lens grants us a power that not everyone has.

But, for others who are creative, the gift is a curse. Too many colors, too many emotions, too many words. Just. Too. Much.

We'll never know how Philip Seymour Hoffman viewed his gift. At least those of us who only knew him through his work will never know. I hope he allowed his family in deep enough so they know if he viewed it as a curse or a gift. I wonder if he appreciated what he was able to bring to those who watched him. I wonder if he knows how angry, how sad, how hurt, much emotion he elicited with his final act.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was the singular actor of my generation. The one actor I can think of who, in his forties, could out perform almost everyone in Hollywood except, perhaps, Dustin Hoffman. And to be honest, I think both Hoffmans actually tie in brilliance. Here was a man who could create characters so unique it often took a moment or two to realize that the actor underneath the emotion, make up and lines was the same you'd seen in that movie you so enjoyed the year before, or the TV show, or the Broadway performance.

There are some who are calling this senseless death a tragedy. The more sarcastic are saying he outdid Elvis. And yet still others are calling this a robbery of incredible talent yet realized. As a fan of his work, this is the sentiment I agree with the most. I cannot even fathom how those who worked with him, were friends of his or who loved him deeper than anything, are feeling right now.

It is often said that those of us who are creative have a gift. For some that gift is a curse. For me, the work of Philip Seymour Hoffman falls into the same category as Vincent Van Gogh. Emotions as brilliant as a midnight blue sky filled with exploding stars. Bright as day for a moment and then gone, snuffed by a senseless tragedy I can barely imagine.

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