Philip Seymour Hoffman and Risking It

The clamor has died down about the drug overdose of Philip Seymour Hoffman. The fact that keeps repeating in my head is that he was clean for 23 years and then, in 2012, began taking pain pills and then more.

the_butterfly_effect_by_artfactotum-d4kffb5-o7e3kw-300x200The risk of every recovering alcoholic, drug addict, or person who controls a restricted diet through willpower is a single motion of hand to mouth. A single drink, a quick pill, a forbidden food can change a life. And the lives around that life. It’s the Butterfly Effect of evil.

It seems trivial, but one of the difficulties of my choice to lose weight and stick to a strict diet is that there is no medicine at hand if I eat something I shouldn’t. My only choice is not to eat the foods I should not. No mistakes allowed. Despite the urgings of friends and strangers with assurances that “everyone needs a little treat,” or “you have to have one day that rules don’t apply,” for me they do.

There is a risk of failure. But there is also the possibility of success. Each day without medication is a day away from the debilitating effects of long-term medication. The trick, of course, is not to put the hand to mouth, filled with the wrong stuff. That’s always the point, isn’t it?

In the distance, I hear the flap of a butterfly’s wing.

Quinn McDonald’s creative manifesto starts with self-care. It’s less fun than she imagined. On the other hand, she will teach at the Minneapolis Book Center in April.


25 thoughts on “Philip Seymour Hoffman and Risking It

  1. As my mom would say…there are no accidents. That was his day and that was his way. (to die). Sad for those who loved him and will have to go on without him (partner and children)…but now he is out of pain. You are so correct about not touching things. That’s how it is with giving up cigarettes. If a person absolutely never, never TOUCHES a cigarette again…they can remain a non-smoker. It’s in the touching that the change starts.

  2. What a tragic loss with the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman and what an interesting thought as to how easy it can be to get off track, whether it’s an addiction with drugs, alcohol or food. Most people (well, at least I hope most people) would not buy drugs for a recovering addict or give a drink to someone who is in AA. Why is it that people feel perfectly ok pushing sweets onto someone who’s dieting or is changing their eating habits, trying to get healthy? I don’t personally deal with health issues regarding food but it is such a pet peeve of mine when food pushers insist I eat something that I don’t want.

    I don’t understand the mindset of people who aren’t successful with recovery, diets or other personal accomplishments and then want other people around them to also be unsuccessful. Personally, I would rather embrace someone else’s success and be lifted and encouraged by it instead of dragging other people down. If you have a bunch of people wallowing in their failures, what good is that for anyone?

    Quinn, your willpower is nothing short of amazing to me! You made a decision to take care of your health and you have stayed the course. I know people have tried to throw you off track and have not truly listened to what you have said; more importantly, they have not respected the path YOU have chosen for your health and well-being. I’ll say it again, you are my hero and I have so much admiration and respect for the path you have taken. Way to go, you are doing it your way…..the right way!

    • yeah, but I’m cranky and people back away from me when I start to snarl! I love you Traci, you are a real support about my diet–always have been. I will never forget that you offered to eat my tater tots when they appeared on my plate and I felt weak. And sadly, people DO offer alcohol to people in AA. “One little drink doesn’t make you a drunk.” But that wonderful line from the West Wing always stays with me:”I don’t know how people can have one drink.” I feel the same way about cinnamon rolls and chocolates: whatever bag or box it comes in is a single-size serving.

  3. This piece from the NYT is an interesting window on how the “field” of nutrition (I’m not sure it’s exactly a field of its own, exactly) is full of so much conflicting information. Why is Nutrition So Confusing?

    It seems to me that “nutrition” is significantly more complex than most sciences. Nutrition is quoted there because it’s probably not even the right term. Imagine trying to study physics if it were also possible for some people to be allergic to it, others thrived on it, and it didn’t seem affect some people in the leastl!

    • Nutrition is crazy and unreliable for exactly that reason–what works for one person, doesn’t for another. So when someone tells me that “all I need is gluten-free diet” and that person is waiting on me in a restaurant, I become very, very careful about what I order. Often waitstaff is quite casual about what is in the food. Last week in Tucson, after asking if the salad dressing had any kind of sweetener in it, and getting a “no,” I tasted maple syrup. So I checked again. “Well, Maple Syrup is all natural,” the young blond cheerfully told me, “it can’t hurt you at all! Enjoy!” So, yeah, nutrition is tricky.

  4. Thanks for this “take” on Philip Seymour Hoffman’s tragic death. I can’t get it out of my mind. What a loss for this world! Yet, what a learning, too, about unmet potential, possibility and the future. Your words about risking failure or success by the choices we make resonate, too. It’s about choosing which risk we’ll accept. Then sticking with the risk and the choice. Something to remember each and every day. Thanks, Philip; thanks, Quinn.

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