Originally posted to Facebook, December 27, 2016
2016 has been the worst. For reasons I don't have to get into. But I am finding the path out for myself, and I wanted to share. I know I'm long-winded, but I hope that this helps.
The myth of Atlas has given us two wrong impressions of the world. First, that carrying the world is a punishment. Second, that the weight of it is carried on one set of shoulders. The planet may turn without our influence, but the weight of humanity is to be lifted, just a little bit, by each of us.
We lost many arms under the world this year. People who were visible, and an inspiration to us. It hurt. And it felt especially hard when they were taken early.
It is difficult to know how precisely to mourn for those we knew only from their art, and public life. It is a loss, but not the same as family or personal friend.
When I am encountered with this feeling of loss, I endeavor to stand where they stood and take up their cause. I try to take up some small part of the humanity they held above their heads.
So when I miss Robin Williams, I try to make people laugh so hard they can't stop. It doesn't always work, but it didn't always work for him, either.
Three things happen when you shoulder that burden. You, in some small capacity, better understand the person you idolize. You also carry forward a piece of them to someone else, the same piece that was important to you. And finally, as you take up their cause, you’ll find something else: the others who miss the person too.
So if you want to mourn Carrie Fisher, speak out about mental health and take no shit from hypocritical men.
If you want to mourn David Bowie and Prince, make great art, and no apologies for who you are.
If you want to mourn John Glenn, be brave, adventurous and kind all at once.
Whomever you miss, take what was most important about them to you, and give it back to the world. You will honor them. You will find some measure of solace in the act, and you will find some measure of comfort in the friends you meet along the way. And just incidentally, you will make the world a better place.
Because as much as we heap memes on this year, it has no magical powers. We will not see the end of loss in four days. So we have to know where to stand when it comes.