What Car­rie Fisher, Bowie, Prince and Muham­mad Ali Taught Us

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Noth­ing I can say will make the losses of 2016 hurt less. But it's pos­si­ble to take some­thing from this year's long pa­rade of deaths (which, for me, in­clude a per­sonal loss). When some­one fa­mous dies, and we mourn and feel the pain of a lost con­nec­tion, it's be­cause that celebrity trans­mit­ted some­thing im­por­tant into the world. They didn't just make art that we re­mem­ber and cher­ish, they put mes­sages into the world in the way they lived their lives. Th­ese were ideas we needed to hear, and those wild and un­ruly trans­mis­sions changed us-and the cul­ture around us.

As 2017 dawns, we will un­doubt­edly still be in mourn­ing, and quite prob­a­bly afraid that this dif­fi­cult year was a mere tune-up for what's to come. A ter­ri­fy­ing thought, that. Scraps of com­fort are hard to come by. But when I can, I'm think­ing about how we can build on what peo­ple like Car­rie Fisher, Muham­mad Ali, Prince, and David Bowie taught us.

Per­sonal spirit

From David Bowie, we learned how to cre­ate our own re­al­i­ties and per­sonas and ef­fort­lessly slip from one iden­tity into another, and still stay true to the our own per­sonal spirit of in­no­va­tion and rev­o­lu­tion. We ex­plored plan­ets and gal­ax­ies with Bowie, who found those far­away places in­side our hearts and minds, even as he made us cry and dance. He was the trick­ster who knew we are all weirdos, and he told us that was our se­cret strength. From Prince, we learned to ques­tion ev­ery­thing and find joy and com­mu­nion even in the ex­ca­va­tion of deep pain and pro­found long­ing. Ev­ery­one was ac­cepted in Prince's world, re­gard­less of sex­u­al­ity, re­gard­less of back­ground, re­gard­less of creed, as long as ev­ery en­trant to the Pur­ple Do­main was pre­pared to let go and find the di­vine in the funky, and vice versa. Prince taught us to let go and be our­selves and see what fan­tas­ti­cal en­er­gies would be re­leased as a re­sult.

From Muham­mad Ali, we learned how to be po­ets, to be prophets, to be true our be­liefs even when it felt like the en­tire world was against us. Ali would have been a le­gend in his cho­sen sport even if he'd never given an in­ter­view. But it was his ad­vo­cacy, his pa­tience and his un­be­liev­able stead­fast­ness that made him into so much more than a mere le­gend. He was an ex­am­ple of some­one who re­made the world around him by never re­lin­quish­ing the core of what mat­tered to him, and by com­mu­ni­cat­ing those be­liefs in the most mem­o­rable and evoca­tive way pos­si­ble. His pas­sion­ate joy and his right­eous anger, com­bined with his charisma, made him the Great­est of All Time.

Ap­petite for ad­ven­ture

From Car­rie Fisher, we learned that the world will try to put you into a cat­e­gory and make sure you stay in­side it, but you can pick up a space blaster, blow apart that tiny lit­tle cell and res­cue your­self. Car­rie taught all of us-but es­pe­cially women and girls-that an ap­petite for ad­ven­ture and an irreverent at­ti­tude will get you ev­ery­where, on this planet and far be­yond, and that you shouldn't wait for some­one else to write your story or lead your army. Hol­ly­wood has lit­tle use for women over the age of 25, for women who speak their mind, for women who are irreverent, and for peo­ple who are open about their men­tal ill­ness. Car­rie Fisher gave zero shits about all of that. When she told her sto­ries and shared her bru­tally, hi­lar­i­ous truths, we all felt less alone. Car­rie was unashamedly and un­apolo­get­i­cally her­self. She said what she thought and she cut through sky-high walls of bull­shit in her own way, and she made ev­ery­one love her as she did it. She did her best to be kind and she was a tire­less ad­vo­cate for those with men­tal ill­ness. She was a hero­ine. And she wasn't a space princess, she was a queen. (And a Gen­eral.)

Los­ing th­ese peo­ple is hard. Many more fa­mous peo­ple died this year, of course, and ev­ery one of those losses stings. This year has been full of bad news, and be­ing forced to say goodbye to so many bril­liant hearts, spec­tac­u­lar spir­its and unique minds is the ic­ing on one hell of a night­mare cake. But of all we've lost, I think about th­ese four peo­ple all the time, pos­si­bly be­cause ev­ery one of them had a lot in com­mon with my ir­re­place­able and irreverent mom. When those who loom large in our mem­o­ries and imag­i­na­tions leave us, old cur­rents of grief can surge for­ward again, even if we never met those peo­ple. But didn't we, in a way?

What­ever the fu­ture holds, we can't say we re­ally loved th­ese artists and ad­vo­cates un­less we're will­ing to help each other in the new year and be­yond. We'll show our love for those we've lost by fol­low­ing their ex­am­ples and be­ing fe­ro­cious about what we be­lieve in, but never for­get­ting to be fe­ro­ciously kind. We'll make mis­takes, and we'll be hon­est about it, and we'll try to work as hard as they did, never for­get­ting to dance and laugh and cre­ate joy when we can. We'll honor their lega­cies by hav­ing com­pas­sion for those who need it, strap­ping on our space boots and sav­ing our­selves.


This com­bi­na­tion of pic­tures cre­ated on De­cem­ber 27, 2016 shows pub­lic fig­ures who passed away in 2016, Cana­dian singer Leonard Co­hen, US singer Prince, Ital­ian film di­rec­tor Et­tore Scola, Ira­nian film di­rec­tor Ab­bas Kiarostami, Pol­ish film di­rec­tor An­drzej Wa­jda, Auschwitz sur­vivor and No­bel Lau­re­ate Elie Wiesel, Con­golese singer Papa Wemba, US writer Jim Har­ri­son,, US film di­rec­tor Michael Cimino, Pol­ish film di­rec­tor An­drzej Zu­lawski, Hun­gar­ian writer and lit­er­a­ture No­bel prize Imre Kertesz, Ital­ian writer Um­berto Eco, US writer Harper Lee, Bri­tish singer David Bowie and Ital­ian writer and ac­tor Dario Fo, US ac­tress Car­rie Fisher, Bri­tish ac­tor Alan Rick­man, and Bri­tish singer Ge­orge Michael.

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