(Taken from Huffington Post)
Few people will mourn the passing of January 2016. The month has claimed too many talented artists. By the time the news of Colin Vearncombe’s death broke, I felt crushed. I didn’t know him, I didn’t know David Bowie or Glenn Frey either but when you become so familiar with what they create, they feel like family. They become part of the fabric of your life and it feels like somebody has entered your home and stolen your family photos and personal diaries.
As I write this, news is breaking of BBC entertainer, Terry Wogan, leaving us too. He was a television personality here in the UK whose presence is as familiar to us as the television itself.
Celebrity culture has grown in recent decades and this is to be expected, as time will claim our heroes and influencers with greater frequency. It’s creating a new paradigm in our journey towards accepting our own mortality.
For most of us, our first experience of death is the loss of our pets. It’s tragic to us at the time, but an essential part of our empathic development. Later in life we become aware of death in news stories, we learn about the world wars and the sacrifices our great grandfathers made to allow us to live in relative peace now. Often our grandparents are next to leave us, then parents and ultimately friends — our own generation.
The rising frequency of the passing of celebrities will affect us at every age and resonate more as we get older. This will eventually extend to a new generation of internet influencers — the bloggers, vloggers and creators. It’s a hard reality for us to accept and I don’t believe that it will affect us any less when it happens.
However, after the initial sorrow, you realise that their art lives on. David Bowie’s songs haven’t died with him; they are still with us, and so he will continue to be part of the fabric of our lives. His personal chain of creation breaks but his influence will inspire future generations, future influencers and so the cycle will continue, indefinitely.
I’ve been listening to Black’s “Wonderful Life” album all week. Colin Vearncombe recorded an album of hope, in minor chords, at the age of twenty-four. This art juxtaposed with David Bowie’s final “Black star” album where he erased the entire color from his twenty-four-year-old self. There’s an ironic appreciation of their work that still lives and can still breathe hope into our own lives.
Perhaps there’s an even greater legacy our heroes can leave us through their passing — they can inspire us to create. If I could return to my 20-year-old self I would explain how valuable life is and command myself to enjoy every moment, create timeless art and leave a legacy of love.
In grief we realize the only thing more fragile than life is the living we take for granted.