Today I have so many different topics that I considered writing about: the death of David Bowie, the death of Alan Rickman, the Powerball Lottery... then I realized these have a similar theme: loss.
So many people were affected by David Bowie's body of work. He was an inspiration to countless musicians and others. His talent is undeniable even if you weren't a super fan.
The same could be said for Alan Rickman. He was an amazing actor that brought life to such infamous characters as Professor Severus Snape, the Sherif of Nottingham and others. His talent speaks for itself.
Other writers far better than myself have already given wonderful eulogies about these two men so to eulogize them again here seems redundant. There is no way to say anything more that hasn't already been said about them.
The one angle I haven't seen yet, however, is: how do the fans of these two gentlemen cope with the loss of these accomplished and talented people. We have lost thousands of talented individuals over the years so I would include them in this question as well--I'm thinking about Robin Williams, Paul Newman, Amy Winehouse, John Lennon... The vast majority of us never had the opportunity to meet these people. Sure, we saw their movies, listened to their music, maybe saw them on stage or in concert but that's as close as we were able to get. Why do they have such an effect on us when they're gone?
And how does the Powerball fit into this?
Only three people won the Powerball even though I don't know how many people played it. So, for just about everyone on the planet that played, you lost (I didn't play so I'll not count myself in that group.) Why do you play? The answer is obvious! Someone is going to win and have more money than they know what to do with and will never have to work a day in their life again! They'll instantly be transported into the world of "multi-millionaire"! It might as well be me! But the reality is that only a very small number of people can win so the majority are left a few dollars poorer.
But what would you do if you won?! There was a hashtag that started (#IfIWonPowerball was one of several) asking just this question. For most of us, I imagine that we would get a little closer to those stars that live these, we imagine, glamourous lives. We could afford a house in the Hollywood Hills or afford to send our children to exclusive preschools to hobnob with the children of stars. We could go to expensive restaurants and rub elbows with superstars. We can afford tickets to shows and grease the palms of people that keep Average Joe's out of hanging with the stars. We could live the life we imagine that they have.
Other than those handful of people that won more than a million dollars in the Powerball, everyone else is left to their same-old normal life. Even living in the Los Angeles area, I very infrequently run into famous people in my day to day life. (I know, its shocking!) So how do we cope?
One of my favorite authors and human beings is the late Dr. Viktor Frankl. I highly recommend his book Man's Search For Meaning. In it, he posits his theory that as long as you have something to live for--some purpose outside of yourself--you will find motivation to keep going, happiness and fulfillment. And isn't that what we think winning the lottery will give us? Happiness and fulfillment? And isn't that what we think the stars have: happiness and fulfillment? Perhaps there is a part of us that knows this isn't true. Stars don't have an easy life just because they have tons of money and fame. In fact, their fame (and money) often brings far more trouble. I remember watching an interview with the lead singer of Depeche Mode, Dave Gahan. He said something like: "I was much happier working at a grocery store, stocking shelves." Winning the lottery would make you happier for about two days but then all the problems would start if you didn't find meaning. It has been shown that the more money you win in the lottery, the higher your chances of going bankrupt! So clearly money and fame don't bring you happiness.
So you didn't win the lottery. We have lost these two (and many before them) great individuals. Let us look for happiness in our own lives right now, because happiness can be found anywhere depending on HOW you look for it.
Dr. Frankl was a prisoner in a WWII concentration camp. He was able to find meaning even there and this helped him survive that horrific experience and go on to do many great things afterwards. His experience there actually helped shape the theory he writes about in Man's Search For Meaning.
Joshua Glenn Clark wrote a really good blog about the lottery and in it, he stated the following: "We all have a purpose, a task for which we were designed, and the goal of your life is to find it—not somewhere out there, but hidden in the life you’re already living." This is basically Dr. Frankl's message as well.
Perhaps the great people that we have lost: David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and others inspired us because they were finding happiness in the life they were living. So many of the eulogies for these men have stated what kind people they were, how caring and considerate they were to others. They brought inspiration to so many and joy to so many more. Let us look at what we can do in our own lives to inspire and bring joy to others. Let us look for opportunities to be kind and considerate to others. We're not winning the lottery any time soon. Let us take to heart Mr. Clark's words and Dr. Frankl's theme and find the purpose hidden in the life we're already living. Isn't that the best way to memorialize the ones that have gone before us? Let us continue their legacy of kindness and compassion. This is how we cope with the loss--by living a life of purpose.