Life ends. Sometimes it lingers on into old age, and sometimes it disappears in a blink.
And now, Alan Rickman.
I have a very hard time typing that list without tearing up… not that I’m resisting those tears. It might seem silly to mourn someone we’ve never met, but celebrities give us a piece of themselves every time they take the stage. I saw this tweet the other day, and I feel like it’s a perfect expression for the rationale behind our mourning of celebrities.
Thinking about how we mourn artists we’ve never met. We don’t cry because we knew them, we cry because they helped us know ourselves.
— Juliette (@ElusiveJ) January 11, 2016
These celebrities that we watch over the years show us sides of ourselves that we’re afraid to face head-on. They force us to ask ourselves difficult questions. Then they pull us from those pondering thoughts by entertaining us.
I’m fairly certain that if we brought any of our recently-departed heroes back for a final piece of advice, they would all agree that life offers no guarantees.
The meme to the left brought me to tears this morning. There is some debate on the Internet as to whether or not it’s really his quote… but I’m pretty sure he’d agree with the sentiment. And I’m fairly certain that Alan Rickman pictured himself as an old man, living in peace, surrounded by family.
He wasn’t given the chance to be that 80 year old man.
But I don’t think he’d say that he regrets that loss. And I don’t think Bowie or Lemmy would have regrets, either.
All three of our beloved heroes lost in the last two weeks lived as authentically with themselves as possible. They followed their passions, were unabashedly themselves, and took no shit from anyone. Ever. Three very different men, with three unique personalities… all living in a world that constantly tries to shove people into specific boxes and categories. They all played by their own rules.
Of the three, Rickman’s passing hits me the hardest. For all of his roles as “the bad guy,” Alan Rickman was a kind man and a class act. He lived a quiet and private life alongside his wife — who was his first girlfriend and forever love. He spent his non-acting time fighting poverty in some of the world’s most dire conditions.
I obviously don’t know the man personally, but his convictions rang through his actions. He taught us to be gentle with ourselves, and to take action slowly, methodically, and in accordance with what is deepest and truest within our souls, regardless of the roles we’re made to play.
Life offers no guarantees. And it’s times like these that give me pause and make me do a reality check.
Am I living to my greatest potential?
Am I using my time to its fullest?
If I were to graduate from this life right now, what regrets would I have?
What am I doing — or not doing — to serve my deepest self?
Where am I giving my power away?
If I don’t make it to “80 years old, sitting in a rocking chair and reading Harry Potter,” what will I wish I’d accomplished?
The answers to those questions are for me alone. I encourage you to ask them of yourself. We make the world a better place only by giving ourselves fully and authentically.
So, thank you Alan Rickman. And David Bowie. And Lemmy. You are a trifecta of awesome. Thank you for giving yourselves so freely during your brief stay on Earth. Thank you for challenging me to know myself a little more.