This year began with a celebrity punch to the gut, and the hits haven't stopped coming. One by one, stars of my childhood have been winking out, leaving me to navigate in darkness.
Beautiful voices fall silent. Passionate hearts cease to beat. Visionary eyes dim and close for a final time. All lives do end.
For decades, they showed me where to go, how to love and live. They dared me to achieve, challenged me to be compassionate. They crafted lyrics that inspired me, delivered performances that touched me. They changed the faces of nations, and rewrote human knowledge.
And for a while here, especially with the loss of Carrie Fisher today, I've been feeling...bereft. Directionless. As each life fades into grey I can see upon my own where its colors were, where the greatness bled through their gifts to me.
What, now, am I to do? How do I find my way without their lights to guide me? They blazed the trail for all of us, up to the edge of this terrifying blackness.
I ask the Universe, and the answer comes back, "If you need them, become them."
How, though? I'm no virtuoso, no gifted performer, no brilliant creature to capture and inspire millions. I'm no political hero, no revolutionary. I'm a simple person who lives a simple life, as heart-first as I can make it.
In that is the answer. I will never be a brilliant guiding star, blazing across the heavens to touch millions of lives. But here, today, now, can I lift one person to hope? Can I teach one person that they are loved? Can I show one child that I believe in them and their dreams are in reach?
Millions of us have lost heroes this year. As we cast about for new heroes, let us not forget that this darkness gives US the chance to step forward and shine, to cast the light we need and maybe show others the way in the process. We can find new heroes, or we can become them.
If 2016 has destroyed something you loved, then face 2017 with a ready heart. Raise your voice, raise your fist, raise your spirits. Take hold of your passions, promise yourself that this year you'll create something beautiful, fix something broken, improve something that could be better.
If you're grieving, today, the loss of someone whose brilliance illuminated your life, then now is your moment to carry their light forward.
They weren't just shining for us. They were teaching us to burn.