Lessons Through Life and Loss

I was going to write a blog post Sunday wrapping up and recapping Week 2 of Camp NaNoWriMo , but I made the mistake of going online first and saw the news that actor/singer Cory Monteith, who starred as Finn Hudson on Fox’s hit show Glee, was found dead Saturday. He was 31. I had been a hardcore gleek from Season 1 until I quit the show after its third season ended and though I never really liked the character of Finn, I liked Cory as a person. In every interview he did, he came off extremely down to earth and generous.

It was strange, but I was suddenly overcome with an overwhelming sadness for a guy I’d never met. I watched him every week for 45 minutes; he was only five years older than me. It’s surreal to think about him being gone.

But the harsh reality is this: we all have an expiration date. When our time is up, we die. Fame and fortune don’t change that. No one escapes the inevitable, no matter how talented they may be.

Because of that inevitability, it’s extremely important that every one of us makes the most out of every chance, every opportunity and gift we are given. One day you’re here and the next you’re not and everything that you meant to do and didn’t, well, it will be too late to do anything about it.

It put things in perspective for me. I’d been whining and feeling sorry for myself that my book wasn’t selling the way I hoped it would. I worked my ass off on that book, put all of my free time and passion into it, spent money that I didn’t have to buy the perfect cover for it so the outside would be as wonderful as the story I’d put inside it, and none of it mattered. In the end, it felt like a big failure. But you know what? I wrote a damn book. And that’s pretty freaking amazing if I do say so myself. Most people only dream about doing what I just did and yet never do – usually out of self-doubt or lack of ambition. I beat those odds. I said I was going to do something and I did it. For a lifelong flake who has a bad habit of starting stuff and then not following through, this was a feat of epic proportions – even if I didn’t sell 700 books in a few weeks (my cover designer’s friend just did that and damn…I’m impressed. And slightly jealous). Hell, I’ll be lucky if I sell 7 books in a few weeks.

Still, I had a dream and I went for it. It was crazy and a long shot, but I did it. And because I’m now reminded of how fleeting life is, and how quickly everything can be taken away, all of the things that I’ve put on the backburner are now being brought to the fore again: my acting, my music, my decorating business plans, all of it – it’s now my main priority. I was put here on this Earth to make art. If I never get an E! True Hollywood Story or a star on the Walk of Fame (two more dreams, by the way), at least I can say I did everything I could with the abilities I was given and made things that I was proud of.

So while my heart goes out to Cory’s family and friends after his untimely passing, I’m no longer sad for him. In the short time that he was with us, he accomplished so many incredible things, things most people could never imagine. He struggled with addictions, yes, but through that pain he created a character that resonated with so many people around the world and inspired countless kids to dream big.

He lived. Truly. And that’s a lesson we can all take from this terrible tragedy. To go after what we want, to live every second of our lives to the fullest, and to make art that speaks to us because when we’re long gone from this world, our artistic imprint will be what remains. And that’s beautiful. RIP Cory. You’ll be missed.

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