I usually stay away from the mindless, mass media-fueled morbid curiosity of our celebrities, but as everyone knows by now, actor Heath Ledger died yesterday. While a conclusive autopsy has yet to be performed, it appears his death was brought on by an overdose of drugs.
I personally think there’s way too much attention being paid to this incident. The sad fact remains that literally thousands of people, old and young, rich and poor, famous and anonymous, died similar deaths yesterday. Many of my readers know of my own struggles with drugs and if you knew half my story, you would swear I’m a walking miracle. Even an atheist would shake her head in disbelief. Trust me…
I believe Mr. Ledger’s death isn’t in vain. His story, tragic as it is, leaves us all message. I realize many people will wonder aloud how such a beautiful young man — talented, rich, and famous — could seemingly throw away his life just like that. I think this is a mistake. People assume that happiness can be bought. That if only you hit the lottery or Oprah shills your book, or if you had more money, more talent, lived somewhere else, maybe had more looks, you would thenabe happy. If only is like state of mind that guarantees disatisfaction.
And that is the lie.
Nothing outside of yourself can make you truly happy.
If you’re not happy right now, this very moment, then what the fuck makes you think you’ll be happy under other circumstances. In fact, I’m willing to bet my left nut that most of us would become even more unhappy if we were to receive a fraction of the things we prayed for.
No, Mr. Ledger’s death, as tragic as it was, wasn’t in vain. It teaches us all that happiness is not the domain of achievements, glory, adulation, and riches. Those are castles in the air — fool’s gold. Some of us may look down on Mr. Ledger’s death and judge him. We might observe that he was a fool, an ingrate who didn’t appreciate his gifts. I say that but for Grace there go I. I know what it feels to be empty, or to lack meaning in life. I know what it feels to feel hopeless to the point that death seems like a welcome alternative. I know deeply what it’s like to live a life of quiet desperation, a smile on my face and my heart broken to pieces.
I know what it’s like to howl in pain alone at night and feel no one’s heed.
That kind of pain, dear readers, isn’t assuaged by money, fame, or success. And you all know this. You all have known pain at some time in your life. Perhaps – perhaps you might say you didn’t feel it to the extreme I did, but pain is pain, man. Who’s to say whose pain is more valid? We all lead lives of quiet desperation at some point, at some level we yearn to be understood, to be loved, to be embraced, and accepted. We feel that overwhelming and often unheeded need.
I can’t say with certainty what Mr. Ledger was feeling or what was going through his mind. Perhaps he just wanted to get high and escape the absurdity of a celebrity life gone awry. Maybe he had his own demons. None of us can say for sure. I will say, however, that his was a casualty of a war – the longest war. The war we wage within ourselves as we seek refuge in all the wrong places for all the wrong reasons.
I’m not going to join the bash the Heath Ledger bandwagon, or peek at his dead body and conjecture ruthlessly. I’ll tread softly because I know that I was one of the lucky ones. I did shit that would make Mr. Ledger’s actions pale in comparison, but I remain here – alive – and he passes on. Because of that, I consider him part of my fellowship, part of my humanity, so I will suspend my judgment. Instead, I take a moment to bow my head for Mr. Ledger and all the sick and suffering souls who died and those that still live not knowing that hope, freedom, and happiness exists right here, right now. Let their cries for help be a reminder of the preciousness of life no matter where you are or where you find yourself.