Be You. – An Obituary For Recently Departed Mentors.

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All my big mistakes are when I try to second-guess or please an audience. My work is always stronger when I get very selfish about it.”

-David Bowie (1947 – 2016)

David Bowie’s recent passing was one that shocked me.  Many people have left their old physical existence during the past years.  Their number seems to have increased in 2015 and even more so during the transition to 2016.  Among them not only celebrities known through the medias but also people we know because they were a member of the family, a friend, a neighbour…  They might not have been celebrated as stars on TV, yet, they might have been heroes in our everyday life.

It’s a human need to be told stories. The more we’re governed by idiots and have no control over our destinies, the more we need to tell stories to each other about who we are, why we are, where we come from, and what might be possible.”

-Alan Rickman (1946 – 2016)

Last summer a longtime friend and neighbour of mine died, short after his 73rd birthday.  He already lived in this house when I moved in – probably as long as I live here, now, which will be 18 years this October.  He had been very ill for a while and he knew that his life would end, soon.  In some way, we had time to bid each other goodbye.  Meanwhile, new neighbours have moved into the appartement, below.  I am not crying or mourning, anymore.  But there are still moments, when it just hits me.

Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.”

-Terry Pratchett (1948 – 2015)

I imagine, the family and friends of author Terry Pratchett, who passed away in March 2015, go through a similar process.  For them, he was more than an inspiration.  He was a father, a husband, a friend.  For me, he was a mentor.  Not only did his books make me laugh out loud at a time when I thought all laughter had gone from me.  The wisdom in his stories and interviews also feels so supportive to me – and I am still learning from him.  And it is only now that I slowly start to understand that we no longer share the experience of a physical existence on this earth.

Apparently people don’t like the truth, but I do like it; I like it because it upsets a lot of people. If you show them enough times that their arguments are bullshit, then maybe just once, one of them will say, ‘Oh! Wait a minute – I was wrong.’ I live for that happening. Rare, I assure you.”

-Lemmy Kilmister (1945 – 2015)

Lemmy Kilmister, front man of the band Motörhead for 30 years, passed away at the very end of last year.  Although I like the harder sounds in rock and alternative music, I never have been a fan of this band.  And I know that Lemmy could not have cared less about that.  Awhile ago I stumbled upon a documentary that focussed on Lemmy Kilmister, which I found very inspiring.  Although I am not convinced that we would have enjoyed a conversation in the pub, together, I surely admire Lemmy for his authenticity.  He has taught me about being who I am and not lingering upon regrets.  A very important message for a highly sensitive/ highly empathic person like me.  And I am still learning.

I don’t do regrets. Regrets are pointless. It’s too late for regrets. You’ve already done it, haven’t you? You’ve lived your life. No point wishing you could change it.”

-Lemmy Kilmister (1945 – 2015)

I’ve never been able to plan my life. I just lurch from indecision to indecision.”

-Alan Rickman (1946 – 2016)

As for David Bowie, he was – and is – the epitome of creative expression for me.  He did not allow anyone nor anything to shut down his light and love for what he was doing.  Not even drugs.  He quit the latter cold turkey during his time in Berlin in the mid 1970’s.  He always invented himself anew.  And the magic about it:  He always kept his sense of self, he always stayed authentic.  He taught me to be who I am without fear and that it is a good thing to try yourself out and dive deep for the pearls of experience.  And, who knew, I am still learning.

I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”

-David Bowie (1947 – 2016)

My late friend and neighbour, mentioned above, was somebody whom you could describe as the exact opposite of David Bowie.  He was rather conservative in his ways, liked everything to stay as it is and to know what he had.  He was not into fantasy-stories nor into rock music nor into diving deep.  He was no celebrity nor what one would call a particularly wise man.  Yet, in his own way he taught me the same things as the famous people mentioned, above.  Because there was this one thing he had in common with them:  He had mastered being who he was.  And that is always an inspiration.

The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.”

-Terry Pratchett, Diggers (1948 – 2015)

These loved ones and friends, mentors, admired ones and inspirations – they have passed on.  We are here.  We have memories.  We have what we learned from them.  Now it is time, to make it ours.  It now is our responsibility.

Whenever we feel particularly moved by somebody’s moving on into the next world, it seems to me a pretty sure sign that it is now up to us to continue their work – in our own way, of course.”

-Stefanie Neumann

Now, it is up to us to be the heroes.