A number of events have converged over the first three weeks of this new year to bring about an opportunity for taking stock and stopping doing something that I don’t enjoy and which has been causing me stress for some time now.
The first was the death of David Bowie, followed in quick succession by those of Alan Rickman and Glenn Frey. I didn’t know any of these men but each of them touched my life by what they did in theirs. I came to Bowie early and enthusiastically when my brother brought home a copy of Ziggy Stardust. I was four months off my tenth birthday when it came out and my brother approaching fourteen so I can’t be sure that he bought it in the year of its issue and in fact it may not have been until the 1969 promo film for Space Oddity was shown on Top of the Pops in 1975 that Bowie fully jumped into our consciousness, but what a jump! A number of commentators in the days following his shocking death referenced that film and how they, at a similar age to me, felt an overwhelming dread that it was possible to find yourself set adrift without the means for life support when something goes unexpectedly wrong with your back up systems.
Still reeling from the fact that David Bowie was no longer with us, and, to paraphrase Joni Mitchell, the realisation that we didn’t know what we had until he was gone, the news of the passing of Alan Rickman was a further shock. My all-time favourite of the many incarnations of Alan was as Jamie in Truly, Madly, Deeply. I had been on a quest to find a copy of the out-of-print DVD since the sad day when our VHS went to the tip and along with it my home-taped copy of this much loved film. At every subsequent boot fair my husband and I searched through the boxes of DVDs without success until one day last summer he came towards me, beaming from ear to ear and presented me with an original copy! I watched it on that day and cried and laughed in all the old places just as I did last week when I watched it again. I felt every bit of Nina’s grief and experienced again her sense of going through the motions of living when the biggest thing in your life has been unexpectedly lost and with it your own sense of purpose. And I shared her bitter sweet frustration when the petty irritations of living closely with someone returned and were magnified by Jamie’s ghostly friends’ attempts to force her into accepting that she needed to move on. It reminded me too of a cartoon we used in a training session about grief and regret when I worked for a charity supporting the terminally ill. It showed a woman sitting at one extreme of a large, empty settee with the caption “I wish he was still here so I could moan at him”, and it never failed to make me tell my family how much I appreciated them when I got home.
So, you might think that the news of the death of Glenn Frey would have me reaching for Desperado or Lyin’ Eyes to compound the wallowing I had been indulging in by listening to Bowie every day since he died. But my personal track of choice by the Eagles has always been Take It Easy. That opening twelve-string chord from Glenn takes a lot of beating and the whole premise of the song that “we may lose or we may win, but we will never be here again” hammers home what we all say, but all also forget, that life is short and you better spend it doing what you love! So I’m giving up that stressful activity. It means giving someone the headache of having to find a replacement which may well add to their own, already considerable, stress but this will pass and they will inevitably move on very quickly. It also means that I will have more time to do what I love. To ferret about in second hand shops and bring home beautiful objects. To read and research about my findings and tell you about them. To get out and about and experience the great part of the country that I live in and share it through my website. To live what I love and love how I live and do it all with the people who mean the most to me. Take it easy!