A blank screen.
A blank mind.
This is how I am starting out.
I was supposed to write about how I decided at the beginning of the month to make my physical and mental health a priority. On my calendar, I blocked out 2 hours to pound away at my keyboard.
Sitting inside the wait room this morning at the dermatologist, where I was to have a cyst removed from my forehead, I opened up Facebook. The first thing that popped up was a post that stated my friend Thom Hoffman passed away. I uttered a swear word. The receptionist glanced up from her computer.
Thom was the most brilliant writer I’ve ever met. He was a master wordsmith. He weaved together words that were unlike anyone in print or elsewhere. I was/am in awe of his storytelling ability. And now, there will be no more new words. No more new sentences that stun me with his eloquence.
When Thom wrote, he opened himself up for all to see. He had no inhibition. His heart poured out onto the page and screen for all of us to read. He was also a fierce lover of all things. And I mean, he loved all things. He loved his family. He loved his friends. He loved to cook. And he loved to write.
I was at a Dad 2 Summit conference and after checking into my room; I headed down to the bar. As I walked across the lobby, I heard, “Jason Greene, you’re a Mensch.” I looked over and saw Thom sitting on a couch. He stood up and walked over to me. As we grew closer, he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me into a tight hug. And then, while in arm’s length because Thom was a close talker, he shared which of my blog posts he loved the most. As he spoke, it humbled me because Thom’s mastery of words was second to none.
From that moment on, we were friends. Each Dad 2 Summit, I looked forward to spending time with him. With Thom, you could cover a million topics in an hour. Our conversations would start with fatherhood, move on to literature, and usually end with music. Hanging out with Thom was a marathon of expressing ideas. To not have that anymore is heartbreaking. It’s shattering.
Earlier this year, I was going through a difficult time. One day, my phone lit up with Thom’s name on it. I sat on the floor and we talked for an hour. He knew I was going through a hard moment and wanted to check on me. Thom was good that way. He checked on his friends. I’m one of many that he would call to see how we were doing.
Now I’m trying to figure out the best way to honor my friend.
I believe the best way to honor Thom is to check up on your friends. Ask them how they are doing and be present with them. Don’t do it out of duty, but out of love.
The national suicide prevention and crisis hotline is 988. Call it. You’re not alone. Share it with those you believe need it.
This is from his blog. It’s titled, “Tell Me a Story.” He’s written many brilliant things, but as a storyteller myself, it resonates with me.
Tell Me A Story
“Tell me a story.”
A poem, a song. DaVinci was a musician and arranged the loaves of bread in ‘The Last Supper’ to equate music notes. Bach wrote code into his music to spell out praises. Beethoven was deaf, but he told stories anyways knowing he would never hear them.
“Tell me a story.”
Imagine those first stories around a pit-fire. Mastodons and arrows, legit heart-racing stories about survival, and techtonic shift.
Imagine as the fire dies, the word being the one thing that still exists.
“Tell me a story.”
A poem, a song. Rauschenberg said: I work in the gap between life and art. Maybe that was Jasper Johns.
Andy Warhol offered up a soup can; Jackson Pollock painted his subconscious and was entirely brave for doing so.
“Tell me a story,” my son says to me. I keep the tradition alive. We are all stories.
By Thom Hoffman
Rest in peace storyteller.