I join the world, today, in mourning the loss of the extraordinarily talented and versatile actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman. His death hits close to home for several reasons. One, he is our homeboy, from Fairport, NY. And, anyone who has lost a family member or friend to the gravitational pull of addiction remembers the pain and powerlessness this brings.
It’s easy to look at Philip Seymour Hoffman’s acting career and say, “Nobody did it like he did.” At age forty-seven, he was in his prime. So incredibly talented! I deeply mourn our loss. And my heart goes out to his family.
My dream maker gave me an interesting commentary this morning. Sometimes dreams seem so mysterious and symbolic, I need time to decode their truths. Other times, quite simple. It’s hard to miss the meaning of this one.
In my dream, my friend Ab Logan is leading a children’s program and they are singing/shouting out, “There are so many things that I can do. Nobody does it like I do!” After she sings, a cute little girls sits next to me and wants to show me something. She says, “He gives everyone prizes!”
You need to know my dear friend Ab. He has taught English at Boys’ Latin Preparatory School for many years. His students often return saying their first year in college was “all review.” He prepared them well. But Ab is distinctive for another reason. Every year at graduation he gave non-academic recognition to five boys for qualities like bringing joy to the classroom, offering unusual perspectives, or showing kindness. These awards were coveted as much as the highest honors. In his own way he was saying, “Nobody does it like you do.” He gave everyone prizes!
C. G. Jung called dream symbols numinous (from the Latin numen,meaning “divine command”). With a dream comes responsibility, an invitation to take action. He also taught that everyone came with a “soul print” or individual creative DNA that we were intended to discover and live out. He called it Individuation. He is saying, nobody does it like you do. And you must do it.
My dream is also commenting on what happened last night. I signed up for a class to discuss The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey, the 2014 selection for “If all of Rochester read the same book. . .” at Writers and Books Literary Center. The opening chapter – so beautifully written – shows the brutality of homesteading in Alaska in 1920, and a woman aching with loneliness and despair. She can’t even succeed in killing herself. I marveled at this debut novel – that only Ivey could have written. As I was leaving, the instructor, Wendy Low, asked how my writing was going. I shrugged as the old arguments rose in my throat. “Spotty,” I admitted. “Would you like to join my writing group?” she asked.
How about that? No excuses. Divine command? I’m still seeking the courage and humility to live out the words of that song: “Nobody does it like I do.” This is the journey that only I can make. It’s not my job to be as talented as Phillip Seymour Hoffman or Eowyn Ivy. I am a spark of the Divine that wants expression.
“Be yourself,” says Oscar Wilde. “Everyone else is already taken.”
Again today I whisper to Philip (and to myself), “God is Love. Love ceases not.”
And nobody does Love like God does.