Why We Cry For Those We Don’t Know Personally

We’ve been doing it all year: sitting around, watching our idols die, watching life do its thing, and yes, it hurts. But it’s not really the year—it’s just life, which is brutal, cruel and relentless in the same breath as it is wondrous, miraculous and endlessly hopeful.

With Carrie Fisher dying right after George Michael, we were once again put into that very ironic position of secretly trying to place who was more important to us as individual mourners. I cried for Carrie, yet not a tear for George, though it was George’s music that set the backdrop for some of my wildest fantasies. But George was always a distant character, too mysterious and private to know—perhaps too private for me to grieve with tears.

It was Carrie’s death that touched me. Maybe because she was so down to earth and real, maybe because her heart was accessible; she wanted us to know her, while George preferred to thrive in the shadows with his gate up. He was an amazing human, a giving and a gifted individual, but I did not cry for him.

I never shed a tear for my own father when he passed, yet years ago I cried for the death of Peter Jennings, the news anchor, who resembled my father.

I loved my father, had no issue with him at all. So, why did I not cry for him? I do not know.

I remember earlier this year, after the death of David Bowie, people were saying things like, “How can you cry for someone you don’t know?” or “How can you feel for a celebrity?” or “How can you ‘love’ someone you’ve never met, a famous person like that?”

I always thought this was a ridiculous idea, that we are in some way restricted to loving only a set group of worthy pre-approved beings, and no more. I must have heard the line, “You can’t love someone you’ve never met” at least a thousand times in my lifetime. If this package of lies were in any way true, then how do we explain the thousands and thousands of people who were crushed by the deaths of the celebrities they loved? And yes, they did love them.

So, why then, do we love people we don’t know, people who are famous, who’ve touched us from afar with their talents and their abilities, their pain, their beauty, their story?

We love them because we can. Because, in reality, there are no rules in the book of love. We love who we love. It’s simple stuff and needs no overthinking.

One of the things that prevents us from believing we can truly “love” people we don’t know personally, especially celebrities, is the idea that we don’t want to feed what we think are their already overblown egos. We’re a strange bunch, we humans, always so stingy with our love, as if that pot could ever be depleted.

The reason we cry for those we don’t know is because we can, because our hearts are not subject to limitation unless we superimpose those limits on to ourselves.

And when we “can” do something, it opens the door up to the reason “why” we’re there. It’s like you have to allow yourself that silly moment of idol worship just so you can break past your own ego to enjoy how much fun it really is (or was) to be privileged enough to know about that person’s talent, or charm.

We “can” love people, celebrities, stars, actors, singers. So what if you feed a giant ego if that ego has brought you countless hours or years of entertainment and joy?

Bowie was the one that really did me in this year. I mean, I cried for days on that one. By the time Prince hit, I was numb. But I still kept on crying, because I loved so many people—and they were people, after all.

So, yeah, it was a hard year, and so many unbearably awful things happened this year. But it’s not the year, it’s just life on earth.

And we will walk into 2017 and I’m sure there will be sh*t there too … but there will also be hope. And love and promise. And great, great movies and songs and talent and new frontiers to fall in love with.

And for that love, we will always keep our ‘lectric eye on him, babe. For that love, we will always go crazy. For that love, we will always devote ourselves to pure imagination. And for that love, we will always travel with them and we will always travel blind, and we know that we can trust them for we’ve touched their perfect bodies with our minds.

Originally published by Dori Hartley at YourTango.

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