Pour one under the table for those who walk outside. In memory of Spalding Gray, for what he meant to me...
Thanks, “Spuddy”, for sharing your inner life. Thanks for having the courage to bring so many troubles into the light. You laughed at your troubles and allowed us a way to laugh at our own. You put a voice to carrying an unbearable shyness or an excess of fear along with us as we go through life. You strived to care when caring was out of fashion and in short supply. Thanks for reminding us that life is the journey, and not only the destination. You wrote a book. You played a minor role in a feature film. Those were some of your destinations. When you shared your journey, you did it with humor, humility, and with love. Thanks for reminding me that storytelling is all around us. Thanks for reminding me that it need not be complex. You were merely observant during your journey, and you shared it through the lens of your own perception.
I learned this January that life became unbearable for you. If only we, your audience, could have comforted you or somehow stemmed the river; the flood that carried you to leave so early. I would like to believe that, once you died, you might be able to hear our collective voice. I imagine that you are able to see the people affected by your work, some inspired thus to create works of their own; tell their own awkward stories, sharing them as you shared yours. I am far back in the line, and I eventually arrive at your table. You flip a page in your spiral-bound notebook and take a sip of water before glancing up inquiringly. I only have one thing to say, really. “Thanks, Spalding. Thanks for sharing”.
Written after I learned of Spalding Grey's suicide in 2004. His performances, full of a bare, self-deprecating and personal mania, touched me as they made me laugh. They said, "I feel this ridiculous *******, too". They said, "we get by anyway, despite the confusion, the fear, or the pain". They inspired me to share some of my own self in personal narrative or poetry. He wasn't any idol to me, I just felt his passing strongly since his own work had inspired me, personally, to live just a little bit more. Life's a collaboration.