I remember when I was but a young boy and saw my first Big Deal movie. It was a Big Deal because my Mother took me to see a movie, a new release no less, in the Big City. But to make sure I could fully appreciate it, my Mother rented the movie Star Wars on VHS beforehand. Looking back, I suspect that maybe she wanted to see Empire Strikes Back and tried to justify seeing it by getting her son hooked on it too.
Mission accomplished, Mom.
Seeing Empire that day was important for a few reasons. Going to The City was always an event, which made seeing Empire that much more impressive. Having seen Star Wars just a few days before, the events in a galaxy far, far away were fresh in my mind when I saw what was happening in Empire. And I saw Princess Leia – a strong female lead in a time where you really didn’t see that very often in movies.
Like I said, I was a child at the time. We’re talking single digit age here. So being a kid from a small town, I hadn’t been exposed to much. But what I did know is that between my Mom and Princess Leia, strong women were cool. That would help shape my appreciation and respect for women throughout my adult life.
Yesterday, Carrie Fisher passed away. Social media mourned the loss of yet another celebrity, having lost George Michaels just a few days prior. I saw many people reflecting on how rough 2016 had been with the loss of so many icons. I also read posts from people reminding us that people die all the time, most of them not celebrities, and that maybe folks should chill out a little.
I can’t speak for anyone else. But for me, 2016 hasn’t been about losing cultural icons. It’s not the loss of those who shaped entertainment and society. It’s a little more personal for me.
2016 has reminded me that I’m going to die, and that is Reality.
Nobody likes to think about their own death. It’s hard for people to wrap their head around it. For many, the thought of passing away seems so far into the future that it’s barely worth thinking about. Most of us feel fine, healthy, and can’t even imagine dropping dead. It’s something that happens to old people, or sick people, or other people. We never think it will happen to us.
Until someone close to you dies.
My Mom passed away from brain cancer back in 2012. That was my first big reality check. Death was real, and it could happen anytime to anyone. Message received, and that event reshaped my thought process on Life in general.
But 2016 was filled with the death of people that were a major part of my childhood / teenage years. People like Prince. George Michaels. David Bowie. Ron Glass. Mohammed Ali. And now, Carrie Fisher. I read about people complaining the movie remakes “raped their childhood.” In 2016, I watched my childhood start to die. Major icons that I saw in concert, or on film. People I saw in their prime, years before I would reach my own. People, who in 2016, passed away.
This year was another message for me – you’re getting older, and the Finish Line is getting closer.
I think that’s why a lot of people are upset, even if they don’t necessarily want to admit it to themselves. Deep down, watching these celebrities pass away reminds them that the End is coming for all of us. These people with the spotlight on them just happened to cross first. But many of us who run in the shadows, are closer to the finish line than we want to admit.
In 2016 I mourned the loss of icons from my youth. I know I have more years behind me than in front of me. But this year kinda makes a guy wonder how much time is left for any of us.
Happy Wednesday, y’all.