Sunday, August 4, 2013

Gettin' Mystical: On Bill Hicks, Cosmic Contracts, and Being the Love

Recently while I was doing some research for my novel, I started delving into the life and times of the late comedian Bill Hicks, and ended up going down a rabbit hole that involved among other things, watching a two-hour long documentary on his life called “American: The Bill Hicks Story”, which had me sobbing by the end.

What fascinates me about Bill Hicks isn’t his comedy or his politics, but the fact that from a very young age, something within in him seemed to know that his time on this planet was going to be short.  I was deeply struck by the sense of urgency that drove him. From the very beginning, he was in a hurry. He achieved an enormous amount of success at a very young age, and seemed almost panicked is his determination to make it big quickly. I don’t think this determination and drive to succeed was ultimately because of his ego or a desire for material success. I believe it was because he had a message to get out to the world, and he was “contracted” to get the job done in a short period of time. In other words, he was fated to become who he was before his time was up. I don’t believe his life was a random accident, or that he achieved what he did merely through savvy career choices. I think he had a destiny. And think unconsciously, he understood this.

I only have the vaguest notion of these "cosmic contracts", other than that I believe they exist. However, I think that there are two kinds of people in the world—those who have destiny to fulfill, and those who have a labyrinth of choices before them. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of destiny, but to my relief, I think that I’m a “choices” person. While the idea of being born with a destiny is romantic and compelling, having your entire life laid out for you, being trapped by your own purpose, ultimately strikes me as more tragic than romantic.

Bill Hicks died of cancer at the age of 32. Before his death, he increased his experimentation with psychedelic drugs, which opened him up to mystical experiences. He began talking more about love and unity. His comedy, always driven by rage at the injustice of the world, became more expansive, more inspirational and visionary.  He softened to his family, especially his mother, and wanted to spend his last days among family and friends at the childhood home that he spent his younger years desperately trying to escape. He seemed to understand the need to truly accept love in order to bring a message of love to the masses. I think he died on the cusp of discovering true compassion. His was a short and powerful life. What are those of us with all of the time and choices in the world doing with ours? 

--Kristen McHenry


Frank Moraes said...

Interesting. I've found Hicks funny at times, but that style of comedy (the ranters) never really appealed to me. But I like your idea of destiny and choice. When I was young, I envied those who seemed to have a destiny or at least figured out what they wanted to do very early in life. Now I see it as a terrible trap--or at least it would have been for me. In a fundamental sense, these people suffer for our benefit.

Kristen McHenry said...

I agree--I'm not really a fan of Bill Hick's comedy or that angry-young-man confrontational style. And he was deeply flawed in some ways. I think some of his tactics were counter-productive. I think he let arrogance get the better of him. I think there were a lot of things he didn't understand until very close to his death. Also, I find his forays in the UK, where he found the bulk of his career success, highly hypocritical and problematic. But for all of his faults, you can't deny that he was and continues to be a huge inspiration to millions of people. A life well-lived. said...

Maybe it’s still all about choices and destiny is but an intense case of OCD.

Anonymous said...

... and maybe the obsessive hand washers are messiahs-in-waiting who just made the wrong choice.