An Aging Woody Allen
“I’m not afraid of death [dying]; I just don’t want to be there when it happens,” is a famous quip of Woody Allen. But as you read this post and more of his quotes in later years, you could safely assume he is more than afraid – he’s terrified.
Over more than five decades of an illustrious showbiz career, Woody Allen has frequently shared his take on life and death and the significance, or lack thereof, of being a human being. The actor, director, screenwriter, playwright, comedian, and musician has won four Academy Awards, along with 24 nominations and a host of other awards.
Woody Allen, at least once, categorized himself as a ‘militant Freudian atheist’ (1) but on other occasions, he has called himself an agnostic. Yet he has spent most of his years talking about life and death, God or no God, religion and the existential questions of life. Even woven into the fabric of many of the movies he writes are leading characters who struggle with these issues. As a jokester, comedian and accomplished writer, no topic dominates his thought-life more than these fundamental questions of life. The online repository of his quips and quotes along these lines seems to be endless.
While Others Sleep
Woody Allen has made millions laugh over the years but he himself is not always laughing. He was 72 years old when he told Newsweek magazine that he “… lies awake at night, terrified of the void.” He has suggested that perhaps never to have been born could be the biggest blessing one could have in life. (2)
Don’t Show Me the Big Picture
In the same 2008 interview with Mr Allen, Newsweek put it this way:
“So why go on?”
“I can’t really come up with a good argument to choose life over death,” he says. “Except that I’m too scared.” Making films offers no reward beyond distracting him from his plight. He claims the payoff is in the process—”I need to be focused on something so I don’t see the big picture…… Your perception of time changes as you get older, because you see how brief everything is,” he says. “You see how meaningless … I don’t want to depress you, but it’s a meaningless little flicker.”
Hopeless, Pointless and All Too Brief
In 2012, a WSJ reporter asked 76-year-old Woody Allen this question: “Some say your view is that life is pointless, and others say you’re a romantic realist who believes in being true to yourself. Which is it?” The aging celebrity responded:
I think that’s the best you can do, but the true situation is a hopeless one because nothing does last. If we reduce it absurdly for a moment, you know the sun will burn out. You know the universe is falling apart at a fantastically accelerating rate and that at some point there won’t be anything at all. So whether you are Shakespeare or Beethoven or Michelangelo, your stuff’s not going to last. So, given that, even if you were immortal, that time is going to come. Of course, you have to deal with a much more critical problem, which is that you’re not going to last microscopically close to that. So, nothing does last. You do your things. One day some guy wakes up and gets the Times and says, “Hey, Woody Allen died……” (3)
Expiry Date is Terrifying
Not getting any younger and definitely not more hopeful about his future, Woody Allen, at 78
, was interviewed about his latest movie ‘Magic in the Moonlight’. He referred to life as:
“tough, brutal, grim, meaningless grind full of heartache and tragedy, accruing to nothing…….In the end, you realize that you’re just a human being on the face of the earth, an insignificant agglomeration of cells and neurons, and eventually that expires, and eventually everything expires. It’s terrifying.” (4)
Much earlier in his career, he had quipped: “Death doesn’t really worry me that much, I’m not frightened about it… I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
To avoid thinking about the emptiness of life and the termination of life and the suppressed questions that are so terrifying – Woody Allen seeks distractions. “The distractions take many forms,” Allen suggests. “In my life, I distract myself by turning on the baseball game or going to the movies and getting lost in the movies, or obsessing over the third act of my play — you know, a lot of stuff that’s annoying and puzzling and stimulating, but not terrifying.” (5)
Based on the above, the letter below is written. If you too can relate to aspects of Woody Allen’s life, the same remedy is prescribed for you.
Open Letter to Woody Allen
Dear Mr. Allen,
The void you have experienced throughout your entire life – is the void of keeping God out of your life. Humans are designed with the capacity to enjoy a happy relationship with God. Your many achievements and pleasures in life have never filled the void. If you could have quadrupled your accomplishments and credits, the void would still ache inside. The pointlessness of life that has kept you awake at night is nothing less than the utter emptiness of a life without God. The terror you try to escape by distracting your mind – is to be expected as one approaches the terminus of life with their sins and without God.
Darkness in time is one thing but conscious darkness and hopelessness without God forever is an eternal despair that cannot be measured.
Mr. Allen, the Bible says: “Prepare to meet Your God.” Amos 4:12 While you still have a heartbeat and a mind that’s alert – prepare.
As the evangelist Billy Graham told you back in 1969, when you were in your early 30’s, you NEED Christ. He told you then what the Bible still tells you now in your late 70’s – God loves you and He wants to bless you with eternal salvation. (6)
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only unique Son, that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
If you will repent of your sins and receive Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, the emptiness will be replaced with fullness; the pointlessness will vanish and purpose will become clear. The forgiveness of all sins will be complete and all guilt will be removed. And the terrifying feelings of approaching the end will be upstaged by peace, inner joy, contentment and the calm assurance of an eternity with God in a real place called Heaven where we will worship Christ forever.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name…” John 1:12. Mr. Allen, God loves you and despite your years of not loving Him and ridiculing Him, He still wants you to come into His family. He is waiting for you. If you receive Him, He will definitely receive you. Jesus said: “Whoever [Woody Allen or anyone else] comes to Me, I will never cast out.” John 6:37
Mr. Allen, come to Christ today. Don’t delay. The clock is ticking.
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