Stars

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The cult of celebrity seems to have run mad over the past few years. Anyone can have their fifteen minutes of fame and if they can be sufficiently outrageous, outraged or enraging, may find themselves with a career in the limelight. At least for a little while. Some, however, have a real and enduring talent… and amongst those who touch the hearts and minds through music and the arts, some will find a lasting stardom.

Some notable stars died this week; the inimitable David Bowie, Alan Rickman, better known to a generation as Severus Snape and Dan Haggerty of Grizzly Adams fame. The world paid homage in recognition of the gifts they had brought to stage and screen and many have mourned their passing.

It is a strange relationship we have with those whose talents bring them fame. Sometimes, we almost think we know them, even though their personae change with every role… and none knew how to reinvent themselves better than Bowie. We do not know them, we see only those facets of the public and private faces they choose to show and the occasional and often misconstrued intrusions of the paparazzi. Like Severus Snape, they assume a public persona and live the visible part of their life to its rules, whilst beneath the mask they are as human as the rest of us, just as complex and contradictory, with the same human hopes and needs.

Yet for those of us who grew up watching their rise to stardom, the passing of such stars is often said to mark the end of an era… perhaps because it also marks the ticking clock of our own lives and realising our own mortality in theirs… the era we see ending includes our own youth.

Such public mourning, however, is not the same as the private grief felt by their friends and families… the people who knew and loved them, not as stars, but as friend, lover, child or parent. That is a grief we will all know and understand at some point in our lives… and every single time, it is different, raw and rending, even when it comes, as it sometimes does, with a gentle gratitude for an ending to pain.

Not all deaths are publicly mourned. There is little to see when an old man buries his wife and best friend of fifty years, or a daughter weeps in the silence of the night for her mother, or a child. Every day, across the world, this same scene is enacted by families over a hundred and fifty thousand times… and every day, twice that many babies are born. Of those, a mere handful will ever make a visible mark in the world, even fewer will find fame knocking at their door.

Most of us live and die in obscurity from the global perspective but to those close to us, our births, lives and deaths will always elicit deep emotions. To those with whom our lives entwine, we are more important than stardom; our talent for living and gift of love more valuable than fame. It is the small things of everyday life, the good and the bad, that will leave their footsteps in the sands of time. Not one of us, no matter how long or short our life, will fail to leave our mark in the world, written in the hearts and minds of those whose lives we touched in some way, great or small. History may be written about great events… but it is made by every one of us, every day.

We are links in an endless chain. Genetic research has, over the past few years, shown how closely related we all are, with family trees entwining their various branches throughout our history. Remove any link and the world as we know it could not be quite the same. Erase but one life from the course of history… your life or mine… and the future cannot be what it will be. Even those who have no children will affect future generations through the minutiae of their lives and interactions with others… perhaps bringing two people together. Maybe one of your descendants will finally cure cancer or craft the greatest story ever to be told. Perhaps your bloodline will reach the stars… Who knows? In that we are all equal…and all of equal importance to the world.

Even more than that, though, we are even closer than a genetic link. We are made of the same stuff as the stars… the same basic components that create every known thing in the universe; family in more than name. So it is right to take a moment to mourn the passing of those whose lives have touched our own in any way, great or small, near or far.

Look in his eyes and see your reflection
Look to the stars and see his eyes

David Bowie – Shadow Man

31 thoughts on “Stars

  1. Fame is fickle. She ignores many who deserve it and embraces many who don’t (such as anyone with the family name Kardashian). I like your way of thinking about it, though. We all make your contribution to the human story, one way or another. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a lovely read, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Gave me a lovely sense of peace. I have lost both my parents in the last decade, and two good friends. Life. And death. But I love the perspective you give it, thanks a lot, for there is wonderful truth in what you say.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Gerie. I’m sorry, I’ve lost a few myself, except that once the grief has settled, you realise you don’t lose them completely… they are part of who you have become. You just miss them and wish you could still share the little things with them.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Very true. I also ‘speak’ out loud sometimes to my mom, sharing little bits of news (in the privacy of my home, haha). I like to think she hears me now and then, who knows, right? But indeed, our loved ones never really leave us, they stay with us also in our memories, feelings and cherished conversations. Thanks for the comment. You might enjoy a peek at one post about a lovely aunt (on my husband’s side) who died recently, it came from a need to lessen the hurt, and a recognition within myself of not wanting to feel it, again, while knowing very well that I had to. Writing helped, as always, as I am sure you know very well.

        http://seriouslygoodbullshit.com/2015/10/14/goodbye-in-any-language-is-a-big-ask/

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Love never dies and is never wasted… even if we occasionally look as if we might expect that little white van with the straitjacket to turn up as we talk to ‘ourselves’ …
          Yes, writing helps me too when there are strong emotions. Not everything gets published, of course, but it can help clear the mind and the heart.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, we all leave a footprint, be it small or large, each has a contribution to make to the whole. I think most impressive are those who do big things in small ways, giving of themselves in a heartfelt way every day.

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  4. Beautifully written, and quite touching. Every life does matter to someone, somewhere. And we are all interconnected in ways can scarcely imagine. I love that you made this point. Fills me with an immensity of love for all humanity.

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  5. Reblogged this on graemecummingdotnet and commented:
    A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about going to a funeral. Since then, I’ve been to another, and narrowly missed a third (I found out about it too late). With a fourth already on the horizon, 2016 is turning out to be an interesting year so far.

    Catching up on some posts from fellow bloggers, I came across this one from Sue. She reflects on the recent higher profile deaths (though let’s not forget Lemmy), but also gives a perspective that somehow chimes with my own experience – and I’m sure with yours.

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