Tony Scott killed himself. Tony Scott made a bunch of awesome movies that kicked ass, lived the A list Hollywood life in the 80’s where he presumably did tons of blow with Don Simpson, made millions and millions of dollars, lived in a nice house, had nice cars, and not one single piece of pussy on the entire face of planet Earth was off limits to him. Late into his life he was still an A list director, the hardest job to get besides President of the United States, and a place in life that thousands upon thousands of people struggle and fail to get to and almost nobody is able to sustain for so many decades. He produced TV shows that will continually crank out sums of money so vast that no one could ever spend it, forever. He worked for his whole life with his brother. Most of us can’t stay that close with our families and wish we could. He jumped off a bridge.*
Heath Ledger killed himself. Maybe by accident, but he took a fistful of pills that any amateur knows you should never combine, trying to get to sleep. He was unbelievably handsome and had just starred in a movie that would go on to be one of the biggest blockbusters in the world, in which he completely owned every frame he was in and the ones he wasn’t in you wish he had been. He was married to your personal Hollywood crush and had a beautiful baby with her. Or maybe it was a plumb ugly baby, who knows, but he was young and rich and acclaimed and talented and had a beautiful wife and family– he had EVERYTHING. Still he either did a bunch of coke or just couldn’t sleep at night and took a bunch of pills that he knew could kill him.
David Foster Wallace killed himself. He had tried before, to hang himself, and apparently had a change of heart and managed to reach up and loosen his neckrope. So this time he tied his hands behind his back and walked into the noose. Then he kicked a lever and tigers were released into the room and it was set on fire. David Foster Wallace was worshiped as a genius not only by critics and highfalootin New York types but also by every single one of the six per cent of college students who actually read books for leisure. He was the Michael Jordan of literature, easily pulling off brilliant moves so far beyond any of his peers that they had to despair at their own ineptitude. He made every other writer in the world look like F. Murray God Damn Abraham in AMADEUS. If your girlfriend read books, she desperately wanted to be going out with David Foster Wallace instead of you. But he hung himself. Twice.
Point being, whatever your dreams are, that you work for and struggle for or maybe even just pine for while doing nothing—whatever the thing is that you think will make you happy, lots of people who have it are either fucking killing themselves or turning to the hardest of hard drugs just to feel normal. Meanwhile the fat jerkoff driving the ’95 Ford Aerostar and heading back from his Walmart gig to bone his hideous obese wife is smiling his ass off. The thing you think is going to make you happy is not going to make you happy.
So what is?
Going out to the park and hearing “ratatatatatatat,” and spotting a woodpecker methodically scampering up a pine tree. The way his little head cocks, listening for grubs. His precise and measured movements—little hops up the tree trunk, quartering the bark so as not to miss anything. His plumage. Black and white, crazy patterns, with a little red head. This is why I don’t kill myself. Fucking woodpeckers. Hummingbirds. A nice sunset. I will probably not fulfill my lifelong desire to impregnate Michelle Williams but the fucking woodpecker is enough. You have to know how to see these things and let them remind you that you have a soul. You pull that off, you can eat shit every day and still not blow your brains out.
*Oh, fuck, turns out Tony Scott had inoperable brain cancer. Forget everything I said about Tony Scott; you get that news, jumping off a bridge is legit. Let’s swap him out for Dash Snow, the good looking young artist and photographer with a fuckload of very old inherited money who had a career taking polaroids of his hard-partying friends that would get exhibited at the Whitney Museum. He also jerked off on canvas and sold it and got famous. He had a beautiful (or plumb ugly) young daughter and his cock resembled a blind cave fish from never being outside a gorgeous teenage art groupie. Still, he couldn’t stay off heroin and OD’d.
(EDIT) Per Wikipedia, Tony Scott actually did NOT have inoperable brain cancer, contrary to rumors. Go back and unread the paragraph about Dash Snow, and re-insert the information about Tony Scott into the beginning of the piece in your mind.