MF and the pursuit of happiness

Mark’s death a week ago (a former close friend I hadn’t seen in almost fifteen years)  has brought  up a surprising amount of emotions, varied but mostly perplexing.    I’m left, as often while he was alive, shaking my head over the unremitting and ultimately downhill tragedy of the guy’s life.  

He was a classic example of the Repetition Compulsion, the perfect illustration of doing exactly the same thing over and over firmly believing it was going to be completely different this time.  Every new relationship, or pursuit, began with unlimited excitement and optimism.  It was the greatest!   Nothing could be better, he’d found the ultimate, the secret to happiness. He’d be euphoric reporting this excitement in great detail, often in a way that made unflattering comparisons between this truly amazing, talented, nonchalant, comedic, wise, warm, amazingly cool new person and the cursed losers he already knew and had mostly written off.   Myself included, of course.

Then, as predictably as night follows day, Act Two.   Within a very short time cracks in this perfection began to appear, something was starting to smell bad.   In Act Three, every single time (with almost no exceptions), the innocuous prop left on the stage in scene one would be wielded to deadly effect by a suddenly irrationally enraged putz after some horrific betrayal by said putz.    Along the way, and invisible to himself, the common feature to every similar three act story was that Mark was only concerned with his own happiness, a tragic and hopeless version of it, as it turns out.

He was the youngest of three boys, felt disrespected by his father [1]  and never loved enough by his mother.  Very much like Trump in that way (although young Donald had a little brother to take it out on before he moved his sadism on to larger and larger stages).   In fact, Mark was very close to that zealously controlling, eternally scowling, nickel and diming archetype of the ever-victorious Artist of the Deal.  The euphoria of “winning”, judging from Mark’s unhappy life (not to mention our current national disaster’s life), appears to be an illusory thing and seems to provide little real happiness, it turns out.   

Mark had a uniquely complex style, and I will dig up some more nuggets of it to share here in the coming days, I suspect.   Few things were ever straightforward for him — other than the bottom line, that he needed to somehow prevail in everything, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.    This applied in every facet of his life, was the price you paid to interact with him,  and was at the source of his general misery.

I was close friends with this increasingly classic energy vampire for literally decades.   We met in camp in 1970 and were in constant contact from that time until some time after 2005.   A long run for a friendship.  In the end, an exhausting run.

It is no surprise, I guess, that I am feeling a variety of emotions on learning of his sudden and untimely death.    A wealthy man, a very smart man and a talented musician;  if he’d been at all generous, a bit more empathetic,  he could have had rewarding interactions with anyone he met and shared his good fortune with friends.   Sadly, his generosity, like so much about him, was largely transactional.   He wouldn’t give without some guarantee of an even larger return.  Some would not recognize this as generosity at all.

 

 

[1]  I’m very interested in reading the correspondence between Mark and his father though it will probably be a tough read.  His brother is checking to see if the box was tossed already.    I have authorized the recycling of many dozens of long letters I sent to Mark over the years, found among his piles of possessions.  I have too much goddamned clutter here as it is.

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