David Carradine is dead. All reports indicate that it was a suicide. David Carradine was star of the hit series, Kung Fu, which brought joy and a spiritual dimension to millions of people’s lives.
He was a movie star. I remember seeing him a movie where he was trapped in a hellish post-WWI Berlin. I thought he was great and that he didn’t get much credit for being a good actor. Unfortunately David self-destructed.
In the 90s, I believe, he made a successful series of VHS tapes on Tai Chi. He seemed so spiritual and peaceful in the promos for it. I almost bought the tapes myself. He confessed later in an interview that he was drunk during the majority of the taping sessions. He said that he would film and then go back to his dressing room and order a bottle of tequila and a 2 liter bottle of root beer. I thought it was humorous at the time but I don’t think it’s humorous now.
John Belushi was revered by millions. He was quite possibly the most beloved, funny, amazing comic actor of a generation. He died. OD. Dead in a hotel room while celebrites partied in the room next door. Immersed in the nothing, so souless, he had to use drugs to cover… what?
Chris Farely. Have you ever seen Tommy Boy? A masterpiece. He died. He OD’d. He had ordered a prostitute in his high-rise Chicago apartment and implored her not to leave as he convulsed to his death. When they found him, he was clutching a rosary.
Apparently there is something that fame cannot fill. I learned this the hard way, and luckily, I’m still alive. I was not going to share this with you, but I can relate… to David, to Chris, to John. I have not attained near the level of fame as them but, in a way, that might be a blessing. Because I did start down that road. I started to get a taste of people loving and appreciating my work as an actor and couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why all the adulation made me feel like shit.
I surmise that Chris and David and John felt something similar: No matter how many people tell you you’re great, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel that you’re great. They had no soul, or more accurately, they lost contact with it. And they tried to fill the void with drugs, alchohol, root beer, money, fame, girls, pussy (I was not asked to say that word either but I’m using it since every male reading this knows exactly what I’m talking about and how it makes them feel – great… at first.).
Why? Why did they do it? Why does a man in good health wind up dead in a Bangkok hotel? Why does he, after making a successful comeback with the Kill Bill movies, kill himself? Why? Most people who have never been depressed, who have never tried to fill the void with sex, money and new and NEW and MORE NEW! have no idea. I talked to a girl once who was very interested in me. She was beautiful and quirky; I loved her. I have no idea why but I confessed to her that I was a depressive. She understood but she didn’t. “I’ve never felt that way,” she told me. How can you explain color to a dog? Until he sees it he won’t know what you’re talking about. (I’ve heard this combination – “roorrrr, ruuuuurrrrr arrr arrr mmmmrrrarrrmmrrraaarrrrrooorrrr!” means squirrel though. Try it and comment below. :))
Until you have felt depression, you have no idea. Now I have to be careful here and not wear depression like a red badge of courage, but it is true. It does suck. And most people equate the word depressed with sad. Not even fucking close. Sad is actually a good feeling. Sad is when you miss someone or long for what was or what could have been; there is a positive aspect to sadness.
Depression (clinically, non coloquially speaking) has none of those things. It is empty. It is emptiness. It is nothingness. Imagine the movie Neverending Story. Remember “The Nothing?” It was emptiness, nothingness; now imagine that eating at your soul. Imagine that devasating arrancar. Sorry, Spanish has the only word that comes close to what I’m talking about. Arrancar is to pull up by the root, to devastate, to take out, to destroy. Imagine all that going on in your heart, in your gut, yes, in your very soul. That’s depression.
Okay, enough talk about depression. What does all this mean? It means (and this is what I started to realize before I gained any sort of pararegional fame) that fame, and money and sex and drugs (though lovely in the moment) cannot fill you. They, in fact, make you hollow and empty; or perhaps the emptiness is caused by something else. I actually do not believe that sex, drugs and rock n’ roll cause it, but what I can say without any doubt is that they do not cure it. I’ve tried.
If you read David’s resume, it reads like an obsessive-compulsive’s resume. He never, NEVER! stopped acting. I don’t know if he used that as well to fill up his time, to fill up his heart, to numb his mind from the horror of what he must have felt inside.
But the bottom line is…
He Shouldn’t Have Died
Now I’m not going religious with this. All of you who believe that those who commit suicide are going to hell, forgive me if this offends you, are more likely to go to hell. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Shouldn’t you have some compassion for a person who experienced so much pain that the only way he knew to escape was to end his life? “Well still!” some say, “He shouldn’t have done it. It’s cowardice.” All I can say is, buddy, once you’ve been there, once you’ve experienced the bottom of despair, then come back to me and tell me that suicide is an impossibility for someone in that position. Have compassion, not condemnation, my friend; because, you may very well find yourself there one day. I certainly didn’t expect to.
No. The real issue is not what’s going to happen to David’s soul now that he’s dead, or whether or not suicide is right or wrong; and, despite what I said about having compassion for those who choose to end their lives, I do not feel that suicide is the right choice. The real issue is how does one; especially one with all the fame, fortune and money one could want; get to a point emotionally where she wants to end her life?
How does someone get into that emotional position? I don’t know. If I knew I wouldn’t (from time to time) be there myself. So, in actuality, the only relevant question becomes…
If You’re There, How Do You Get Out?
First of all, I know that becoming famous will not magically cure my emotional, phyisical, chemical, whatever -al problems. I think Chris and David and friends taught us that. I don’t think Heath Ledger committed suicide but I did read several interview of his, and despite his fame and sexual appeal, he was not very happy.
What is, indeed, happiness? And how does one go about getting it? How does one get to a point where fame and fortune are nice things, but not needed, not things I use to get happiness?
What I do know is that going after the fame is a losing proposition. What I do know is that worldly success does not make you feel good about yourself. It can be nice, but it does a shitty job of filling the void. If money and fame were all it took, David would not be dead in a hotel room in Thailand.
I believe some care must be given to the heart. I believe that what you do has nothing to do with what you feel. I am slowly but surely learning this. It is hard sometimes when the storm of depression overtakes me but, it’s there… It’s quiet but it’s there. There is a peace at the center of each and every one of us.
Read this. Will I ever get rid of my Scottish connection? Probably not.
Hard as it may seem, nothing you do will make you happy. You can only be happy as you do the things you choose to do.
Going down the river this summer will not make Phil and me happy. It may give us an opportunity to be happy, but as Abraham Lincoln said, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” We will be happy only if we choose it. Nothing more, nothing less. No amount of women (though they be nice, ;)), sex, money, rivers, adventures, will help. Connect with your soul. Connect with your spirit and move forth.
I invite you to come with us, and I invite you to be happy.
Rest in peace, David Carradine. We will miss you; and wherever you are, I hope you have peace.