Thirty six is far too young to die. What a disaster. The lovely man and actor Alex Beckett, who was working at The Donmar Warehouse, has gone. Suddenly.
Aged 10 I had one of those books you give children where you fill in the blanks “I live in ____.” There was an “ask your parents” section. I diligently got them to answer them all. The last two questions were: “Life is _____. Death is _____.” I found it today and spent a few moments communing with innocent Al, before the fall. My mother had been cautious. “Life is good. Death is not so good.” My dad had put “Life is an adventure. Death is inevitable.” Yep.
Death is indeed inevitable but not at 36 for God’s sake. That’s when you’re having an adventure. I can’t quite think beyond Alex’s death today and I barely knew him. He was part of my community though. There will be many people far harder hit. It’s desperate. There’s an outpouring on my Facebook just because he was such a lovely man.
These deaths smash our happy shelter. How would it be to really truly deeply know death? Like these old white men whose voting preferences some of us excoriate, yet who watched their friends die on French beaches in their youth and now have seen too many of their buddies vanish into the protected ether of a hospital ward and come out on a gurney. To know death like the nurses on those same wards, one of whom I lived with for some time. “I’ve had a shit day. Three people died and one of them was 19 and I thought we could save him.”
Our struggles and squabbles fade into insignificance when faced with that inevitable end. We are all going to die. Some sooner, some later. On a planetary scale human life is but a whisper. As the man himself wrote “a walking shadow. A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more”. He wrote that six or seven lifetimes ago. And he’s been dead for most of the intervening time. And we still don’t easily accept our mortality.
But he’s right. We’re dead a long time. We need to look at our “now” and make the adventure lovely – for ourselves and equally for those around us. Yes there’s the spectre of immediate sudden death. That’s why we cling on to joy. That’s why we must.
A tendency of mine with bad energy in the past has been – sometimes – to pass it on or to pass it back. Sorry if I’ve done that. I’m going to really try hard not going forward. It’s hard enough as it is. Life’s too short to pass round bitterness year after year – to hold onto things until we twist and darken. We all think we do things for the right reason, because the reasons are ours. Sometimes we forget that other people are people too.
I write this blog every day. No matter what mood I’m in. And then it’s out, concrete, but the work of an hour and a mood. It then exists for much longer than the moment it took to write. What I write is not the extent of what I feel. It’s a moment. I can’t put it down and wait until I’m less sad, less happy, less angry, less hippy. So today I’m thinking about mortality and I’m sad. I’m mourning the loss of a brilliant heart. And I’m asking you collectively to try to let go of past tangles and see how the world looks without them in your face.
And fare forward Alex. If life is an adventure then death, inevitable or not, might be one too. Your kindness, your humour and your energy will be deeply missed.