“I have a mess in my head sometimes, and there’s something very satisfying about putting it into words. Certainly it’s not something that you’re in charge of, necessarily, but writing about it, putting it into your words, can be a very powerful experience.”
That quote has summed me up for a while. If you’re reading this and if you’ve read other blog entries of mine, you’ve seen it in action. I wish those words were mine. But, they’re not. They’re Carrie Fisher’s and this blog entry is dedicated to her.
Just about one year ago I wrote an entry criticizing people for being insensitive towards others mourning the death of celebrities. I published that entry on January 29, 2016. At that point, none of us knew how many more big name celebrities we would lose during the calendar year. I could go on and on about some of them; David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Abe Vigoda, Gary Shandling, Muhammad Ali, and Gene Wilder to name a few. They all had some kind of impact on me. At the very least, they entertained me and provided a distraction. They provided laughs. They provided excitement.
But the celebrity death from 2016 that hit me harder than the rest of them was definitely Carrie Fisher. Without question, she’s best known for her role of Princess Leia in the Star Wars saga. I saw the first Star Wars movie when I was six years old in 1982. I was IMMEDIATELY hooked on them. And it’s safe to say that Princess Leia/Carrie Fisher was more than likely my first celebrity crush. Well, it was her or Daisy Duke. But, I digress.
In addition to her role in the Star Wars films, she also had roles in two of my other favorite movies, the Blues Brothers and Under the Rainbow. Yes, I said Under the Rainbow is a favorite of mine. So what? But, the truth is that while I always liked her in the roles she played in those movies, it was the real life role she played that made her so important to me.
A few years ago I started to come to terms with my depression and I tried to understand it more. Carrie Fisher played a big role in that. She wrote an autobiography called “Wishful Drinking.” She also performed a stage version of that book which was recorded and broadcast on HBO. When I watched that show I saw someone that had been to Hell and back. She had battled depression, substance abuse, self-esteem issues, and so much more. And she was laughing about it. But, her laughter wasn’t brushing it off. It was dealing with it. She said “If my life wasn’t funny, it would just be true. And that is unacceptable.” Hearing that line made such a difference to me. I got it.
After watching that show on HBO, I read the book and got it even more. She inspired me to not hold anything back. She inspired me to be open about my issues. She taught me that it’s okay to be who I am. She taught me that it’s okay to laugh at my own disasters. She reinforced something that I needed to hear over and over again, and that is that I’m not alone.
“I’m very sane about how crazy I am” is another line of her’s that I understand. I have my problems. I am aware of most of them. I do my best to keep them in check and under control. I know where a good amount of them come from. I know what I need to do when they pop up. I don’t know if that line meant the same to her as it does to me, but I like it.
In Star Wars Carrie Fisher played a princess. That character was a hero to many. But, to me, the real life Carrie Fisher was just as much of a hero as the fictional character she portrayed on film, maybe even more so. She was able to rise out of the ashes of her own life, make light of her issues, and shed light on them for others. That takes strength and bravery. If I’m half as strong as she was, I’ll be okay.
I don’t know if this entry is doing her justice. I don’t know if my admiration for her is coming out as strongly as I had envisioned. Then again, that could just be my own self-doubt coming through. But you know what? None of that matters. Because it’s my life and if my life wasn’t funny, it would just be true…
and that is unacceptable.
Carrie Fisher (10/ 21/1956 – 12/27/2016)
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