I started writing this piece with the intent of recalling entertainers and artists that had impacted the world in their lifetimes. It was a generic idea that was sparked by the passing of yet another great musician today, Glenn Frey of the Eagles. While I suppose I could have written a 500 word blurb about how great artists inspire us all and even as they leave we are able to call up their films and albums to bask in their glory; what’s the point? It would serve no one’s interest to read bland self-affirming nonsense. I don’t want that and you don’t want that.
So again, what’s the point?
Irony strikes as the inspiration to rewrite this post comes from reading the compilation of Christopher Hitchen’s final essays. Documenting his personal experiences after being diagnosed with the esophageal cancer that would steal him from us at the age of 62, Mortality gathers the great writer’s thoughts on the matter of cancer and how we as a society interact with those diagnosed. Throughout the writing Hitchens is well aware that he will not come out the victor. Yet with the same wit and unflinching analyzing reason he picks apart his situation.
In the midst of the specific retelling of his personal experiences we are given insight to how life can be approached. He reflects on advice he has been given and imparts this knowledge, with his signature voice of course, to the reader in an inspiring prose that demands respect (and provokes a bit of envy if we’re being honest). You feel as though he is sitting just to your right at the same table. Waxing on about the various complexities of life through his bourbon tinted glasses with cigarette smoke hovering nearby.
It is an honor to have a glimpse into the mind of such an individual through his writing. It is with the same respect and appreciation that I remember the many writers, actors, songwriters, and countless artists that have graced this world. Of the recently deceased, the passing of Alan Rickman hit me the hardest. As I read the news on that seemingly normal morning of January 14th, my heart sank and my eyes welled. Even as I write this four days later I am visited with a similar feeling. I didn’t know Mr. Rickman personally, but like so many of us I knew his work. His ability to effortlessly portray a range of characters in such a believable manner was remarkable. Whether villain, hero, or tortured soul he captivated all who were willing to watch him work.
What I wish to take away from the great creators and commentators of this world is the ability to project my voice. We all start out as insignificant. We cast our voices to the world that would rather go on without noticing, but if the greats have taught us anything at all it is to persevere. It is at their direction that I strive to do what may otherwise seem an insurmountable task.
To those artists who have come and gone, I thank you for your contributions. May you rest in peace.