rest in peace,2016

electionjohnoliver

There’s been a lot of talk about how 2016 is the worst year ever. I’m not about to argue that the deaths of 50 beautiful + inspiring souls has created a dampened spirit in the hearts of global networks. These individuals we look to for inspiration, and eagerly appreciate any newsworthy actions from high profile celebrity of great respect.

Is it really the worst year ever? We haven’t experienced a global war this year, nor have we seen great amount of disease. There have been unfortunate and unnecessary massacres all over the world, so yes, it has been filled with tragedy. Including that time Donald Trump stole the US Election….

However, these statements of “worst year ever”are not about the syrian refugee crisis or about climate change becoming a worsening problem. These are statements fuelled by a presumed loss of hope by the bringers of musical, artistic optimism meeting the end of a fruitful, wonderful life. We collectively mourn in status updates and meme-ingful displays on social media. However, this does not well reflect the affect such art has had on our living. I have chosen to show gratitude with each of these stars’ passing, as many others around the world have as well – in a burst of reliving their collective bodies of work. Celebrations of their living do more than bursts of mournful sorrow. Both are expected, but to summarize the sudden loss of our heroes in the statement of the ‘worst year ever’ while cursing the power 2016 has had is to discredit the opportunity we have had to indulge in these magnificent authors of our culture. Celebrity Deaths of 2016 (Summary)

To name a few ways from my own experience, I would not have seen Die Hard with the same interest or conviction (for the first time) had Alan Rickman not passed away in January, nor would i have conducted an interview with an Edmonton connection about the impact of David Bowie had his passing . I was reminded of the power and strength of Leonard Cohen’s beautiful poetry as I relistened to his most mournful classics next to strangefully hopeful ballads. Prince’s death came as a surprise, and because of social networking, I (like many others) learned more about his life than we ever knew because of his untimely death.

Leonard Cohen’s passing, on Remembrance Day of all days, hit me particularly hard, as I realized so many of his iconic words were in the soundtrack of my upbringing. Moreso, they were sung by a family friend who is already gone. I’d already lost my favourite baritone version of So Long, Marianne, before the original was taken by time. The magnificence of his poetry will always be on the ‘to read’ list because there’s always going to be something new to discover..

Most recently, Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds passed away with a day of each other – epitomizing the heartbreak we are all feeling as a product of grief, especially as the year draws to a close. Star Wars defined the feminists, the fragile, the Force… In our growing culture of understanding instead of condemning difference, Carrie was a guiding light to help us be more real with ourselves in facing mental illness and addiction. As an icon she was revered but sought to be respected as an individual.

we all loved you, Princess. rest easy. your legacy and inspiration will continue to guide us. #carriefisher #confidence #action

A post shared by hey, i'm jude (@judelovesquestions) on

This is a theme which has been of great prominence in my personal appreciation of public figures. Until thorough examination of personal patterns, my default was to idolize and place people of high regard on pedestals, away from the unsavoury entrapments of humanity. But they are individuals facing health concerns and uncertainties in similar ways. Like our aging parents and grandparents, they too will face memory loss, poor health, and death. Psychological distress can happen to anyone, particularly those facing Life.

This year’s personal and public ripples of community have informed a change of heart –  that our humanity is continually enlightened as we move beyond struggle. Art is the end of confusion and beginning of refocusing beyond pedestals. Our connection to the importance of an artwork means that the creator of the work is simultaneously more and less valuable. The potential for them to create more enhances their worth, but since the idea is released they do not need to be as present

Each one of these celeb deaths invited us to reflect on our connection to their work, to enjoy the company of this public identity once more as conscious enjoyment informs our appreciation. Yet, the irony of timeliness is funny, how the presence of their genius has been preserved in technologic time capsules – consecutive flat pieces of camera film or circles of plastic vinyl grooves allow our memory to rest in the peace they have left for us.

I think part of this anger and confusion that is projected through social media as many stars leave the earth in droves is a reminder that we have loved their work and never been able to tell them about it. So together, we find ways to honour the memories they have helped us create together – wthout them. It begins a new era of their fame – posthumous adoration is out of their control. In a way, it gives us more power to define their legacy once the work has reached completion.

As this ‘horrific’ year comes to a close we must remember that however 2017 comes to us, the loss of this aging. trailblazing generation is natural as time rolls on. The work they have produced has informed our growth and is not going anywhere so long as we continue to access it.

It is a blessing to know the world at the depth we are able, so, thank you 2016 for reminding us of all the inspiration which keeps this pale blue dot a beautiful place to live.

Going forward into 2017, the things that worry us have become the problems we can solve: displaced war refugees, unjust seizures of power under the guise of democracy, basic human rights for our neighbours identifying as something other than heteronormative, and ecological instability which will inform our activism.

Surprisingly, i’m not entering into 2017 blindly optimistic that it will reach some sort of normal. Because once this kind of shit starts, it often spirals out of control. Unless, as in the famous words of Dr. Seuss’s Lorax, someone like you cares a whole awful lot, it’s not gonna get better, it’s not. 

So, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to care a whole awful lot about the things we CAN change. And let the stuff we can’t simply wash over us. Take it in, surf the wave, and breath in every new day without the weight of despair. Take care of yourself, and let others take care of their own self. Ask for help; offer help.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this year is that no one makes it out alive.And dwelling on nostalgic wishes will only keep us depressed. Whether it’s a race to the bottom or apologetic anxiety encouraging a clamour to the top, there’s still going to be someone who calls it soda when you call it pop.

Some advice, if you’ll take it? Calm down, wave au revoir to whatever disaster you may have caused in 2016, and remember to tell those whom you appreciate that they matter.

This has been the year to remember to let [her/him/they/them/it/us] into our hearts, to make a sad song just a little bit better, to sing the NANANANA’s just a little bit louder. This has been the year of embracing the strength of your vulnerability.

2016 has cracked but is not yet shattered, let the light pour in.

In memory of all those we have lost. In honour of all we have been given. Goodbye, 2016.

**header image: screenshot of Dan Mangan’s music video for Race To the Bottom, Youtube 2016.

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productive nostalgia

archetypes are our fears

given voices, given chances

to bring us to tears

without speaking to years left behind

are you prepared to unwind

the cables of string theory

linking this life with continuous rewinds

a year in the past

keeps denying fears

from becoming regrets

a day in the life

stands stronger among the rest

pushing towards the best


keeping idols on pedestals is no way to look them in the eye

dreams become our benchmarks for understanding

ways to become truly free

through words, paralyzed by possibility

comparing the best moments

without ever having sight of the hurdles

to be overcome

dare we risk

reaching our goals




at the beginning of the end

I can't imagine who else to be

but in love with being on the mend




'he who does not weep does not see'

spoken by the miserable ones

to declare their desperation for clarity;

though pain can be overcome

we do not know

what benefit we can offer

to the greater good found in

 living, while in our time,

many use the energy they contain

demanding a breakthrough.




falling deeper into the gravity of assurance

keeps the strength I've summoned to be a greater

force than foresight can predict

the brevity of our experience cannot explain

how our desiring

can breathe new life

through eyes of enlightenment

through eager encouragement




healing hurts

and we are not told often enough

because it aches to consider

in moments of anguish

how things could possibly get worse




yet, many days of our life are spent knowing

we've got it pretty good

and no amount of gratitude can bring that happiness to light

once it has been erased.




kitsch-y desperation for understanding

leads us to hunt value in discount bins

and lonely breakdowns;

exasperated from false passion

learning  to make the best of leftovers

culture informs our lessons,

relearning importance in lost generations

always

questioning

why, why, why




Do you ever truly know what you've got til it's gone?

have you ever known a greater delight

than standing in the light

of a sun-soaked moon

reflecting wisdom into the night

determined to make everything right




capsizing the halos on our dreams

emboldening our life with changing seasons

finding ways to live, ending our failure by

remembering how to give

more than is asked




With that in mind, do we ever truly know home?

except as reflections in nighttime windows

and fleeting glimpses of memory

when we are weak, caught in a loop

idealizing the past

clinging with a fierce grasp more tightly

on the confusing past

rather than receiving an open future




with circumstances of our belief

we understand motive to be meek

yet pride haunts this daily churn,

always finding ways to spend what we earn




it may cost more than what you are paid,

we're told to do it anyways.

Keep doing it until the end of days.




Get used to goodbyes

they are evidence of ways we try.




better still, get used to quiet

it will always return

each time with more wisdom

and greater defeat




with hazards of helplessness our obstacles during

soulless fantasy

do you ever really know what was meant to be

or is that the greatest game we like to play?

I don’t often free write at 2:17am but here I am, wired, anxious, reflective, and visualizing happiness.

Somethings I did today:
-I participated in the #myanxietylookslike #mydepressionlookslike Twitter trend, and I feel amazing.
– I talked to my dad for more than 5 minutes over the phone and it was easy, enjoyable, constructive…
– I identified with how I am ‘queer’ by gentle comparison with the larger public population at the Halifax Central Library and felt comfortable with it.
– I bought my favourite tea even though I can’t afford it. At the direction of a best friend.
– I began to really let go of some hang ups from MTA, and Edmonton. Nothing’s the same, enjoy the memories. push forward.
– I cleaned, a bit. Enough to become productive again. Damn bed bugs, very grateful for the exterminator coming again soon.
– I registered for an allergy conference – hoping to find networks and courage.

I drew, wrote, painted, and read good things today.
I consumed no alcohol today, even though I had brunch at a bar. (It was delicious)
I remembered MK, AC, JN; those who are forever young in their death and love.
I made a playlist of neat songs I like, as ‘me’ as can be, for now.

I cant keep being so paralyzed. It’s time. Do.