“The 27 Club” was the name given to the group of musicians who died when they were 27 years old. Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Kurt Cobain are some of its members. But now we’ve had a few notable deaths of 69 year olds. David Bowie. Alan Rickman. Leading a few people to comment “69 is the new 27.” I’m not much of a believer in that sort of thing, but just in case… On the watchlist: celebrities who are currently 69 years old. (It seems this kind of thing only applies to celebrities. So if you are just an average person who happens to be either 69 or 27, I think you’re moderately safe. But be careful anyway.)
When I was a kid my grandmother used to flip the TV channel whenever an actor or performer who had died came on. She’d say “I don’t watch the dead ones” and I never understood why it mattered. To me, being an actor on television or in a movie, or a musician who was famous enough to be recorded preforming, that was like being an immortal. Someone who would remain frozen in time at their peak. No death could touch that. But my noni did not agree, and seeing her idols preserved in such a way was not acceptable.
I still don’t share that mentality, but I think I can understand it a bit better now that I’m almost an old lady myself (not even close to 69 yet, don’t worry!) Maybe they were like ghosts to her: shadows of what once was. Maybe they reminded her of her own mortality. Or maybe it was just a reminder of their deaths, and that made her sad.
I got a little sad today, watching clips of Alan Rickman. Sad to think I will not see any new performances by him, sad to think he will never get to be that 80 year old in a rocking chair reading Harry Potter. But I’m not too sad. I mean, he had a wonderful life. A great life! And he did so much with it to be proud of! A fantastic legacy. He made people smile, he made them shudder, he made them cry, he made them think. He changed the world. So did David Bowie. But so does everyone, in their own ways.
And hearing news of their deaths will NOT make me shout “fuck cancer!” on their behalf. I’ve lost enough loved ones to cancer. I don’t need a celebrity death to fuel that passion.
But…”69 is the new 27.” That made me think about this in a different way. People love patterns. Predictability makes things easier to deal with, less scary. But life is scary! And I think life is supposed to be scary, and uncertain, and fleeting. That is the point. We are guaranteed nothing, and if you really accept that then you will understand that every moment of life is a gift. It doesn’t really matter if you squander your gift at age 27 by doing too many drugs or committing suicide, or if your gift is stolen from you at age 69 by disease or accident. The point is: you got an awesome gift! Your life, the lives of those you love, and the lives of those larger-than-life characters who inspire and entertain us, are ALL precious gifts. Be grateful. and enjoy them while you’ve got them. ❤