Monday, 18 January 2016

My Fading Youth

It's been a tough few weeks for those of us of a certain age and generation. The recent and far too soon passings of Natalie Cole, David Bowie, actor extraordinaire Alan Rickman, and now Glenn Frey have left me reeling. It is a strange experience to mourn for individuals whom I have never personally met. And yet....there is such familiarity with these artists and the extensive bodies of work that they left behind, that I feel a chasm has opened in my personal history.

I have always been highly suspicious of public outpourings of grief for celebrities and in fact, I have been rather dismayed at the excessive and exaggerated public spectacles of mourning that seem to regularly occur in the internet age. But now it is starting to feel personal.

These artists weren't merely singers or performers. Their work made up the patchwork fabric and soundtrack of my youth. There were the road trips down to Indianapolis when we rolled down the windows and blasted The Eagles at high decibels. There was the smoothness and soulfulness of Natalie as she reminded us of romance and passion. There were the schmaltzy date nights curled up on the couch watching Mr Rickman's brilliance and marvelling at his ability to get me to cheer for his villains as ardently as I did for his leading men. And....there was Bowie. The iconoclast. The individual. The man who taught all of us freaks and geeks that differences are to be celebrated and never dismissed. They were all there for me during my awkward years, my formative times, my growing pains, my youth.

This fortnight has felt personal because it has felt like my childhood and adolescence are eroding and slowing evaporating into the ether. These recent deaths have brought my own aging and mortality into question. It is difficult to look in the rearview and realize that all of those important artistic touchstones have aged right along with me. We collectively mourn these artists not out of some macabre interest in the details of their deaths, but rather to celebrate and remember the gifts that they bestowed upon us. While nobody can lay claim to immortality, these gifted souls left behind work that will be enjoyed and debated about for years to come. 

My sadness metre is on overload this month. I have lost chunks of my history in less than a month. It is difficult for me to fathom that no new works will be forthcoming from this quartet and that is extremely painful. Nobody, least of all me, likes to come face to face with their own decline. And while there are many more artists for me to discover, and to enjoy, and to revel in, there is still a sense of melancholy in the knowledge that some things will never be the same.

Zichronam Livracha...May their memories always be for blessing.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post. You have captured what I am feeling exactly.