Incredibly, I am three days away from the end of my Year of Inspiration, and from completing my fourth year of daily blog posts. I’ll be writing a year end review on Sunday. And, I couldn’t let these last days slip away without acknowledging the person whose quote inspired this year of making art a little more robust, and life a little more tender.
I came across the quote that would become the foundation for 2017, shortly after actor Alan Rickman passed away on January 14, 2016.
“If only life could be a little more tender, and art a little more robust.” Alan Rickman
I felt such a sense of loss when Alan died. I had never met this genuine and talented man, and yet a light winked out in the world with his passing, and I was very aware of it. His words resonated with me, and eventually became the basis for this year’s theme. My word for 2017 has been Inspiration. My symbol was the lightbulb. Instead of a song to inspire me, I had Alan’s beautiful words.
I have thought of Alan, and his words, every day. The blog posts divided easily between two natural categories. As I typed those phrases…Life a Little More Tender…Art a Little More Robust…Alan would pop into my awareness and I would send him gratitude for his inspiration and his life.
I have long been a fan of the actor, watching his movies that began with Die Hard, back in 1988. But what about the man? Who was Alan? As this year progressed, I took to heart another quote of his that helped me to see beyond his legendary acting career.
To know him better, I simply needed to watch his work. During these last twelve months, I have filled in the gaps in my knowledge about Alan Rickman by watching all of his movies. There were quite a few that I had missed, including independent and artistic films such Close My Eyes and Snow Cake, and dramatic shorts such Song of Lunch and Dust.
From Sense & Sensibility
From A Little Chaos, a historical film that Alan starred in and directed.
Beyond his many films, I watched clips from his theater performances. I am sad that I never got to see Alan on stage. His acting career began with live performances, and it was this format that he loved dearly, playing to a responsive audience. I’ve been able to see much of the play, Private Lives, thanks to YouTube, and only a bit of of the 2011 Broadway production, Seminar, for which he was nominated for a Drama League Award.
Alan and Helen Mirren in the play, Antony & Cleopatra.
From the Broadway play, Seminar.
Perhaps I have learned the most about Alan by watching the interviews he gave, on talk shows in the UK and US, at red carpet movie premieres and during stage door appearances. Alan spoke eloquently and honestly about his career and his life. And, I discovered, he does not suffer fools gladly! I cringed more than once over crudely worded questions from interviewers hoping for an inside scoop or a tasty bit of gossip. Deservedly so, those people would get a short, clipped response and a long, steely look from the man who initially built his career upon playing the villain. Alan would arch an eyebrow and purse those lips, effectively silencing stupidity!
Outside of his extraordinary body of work, Alan was a man of passion and compassion, an encourager and supporter of many, a brother and a husband. He was in a long relationship with his partner, Rima Horton. They married in 2012, after 50 years together. Private, and willing to let her husband command the limelight, Rima nevertheless held Alan’s heart. His final days, here on earth, were spent taking care of Rima’s future life without him, and saying goodbye to as many of his friends as he could.
Alan and Rima.
One of Alan’s dearest friends, Emma Thompson
This year, I have come to know better a man I never had the pleasure of actually meeting. Perhaps because of his guidance, with his words and actions, I feel a strong connection to him. As I traveled this year, I realized that the places I explored were some of Alan’s favorite destinations in the world. He loved Tuscany and Venice, in Italy. He often walked the streets of Dublin, Ireland, and he was a frequent visitor to Edinburgh, Scotland…my favorite city in all the world.
I felt Alan’s presence, his artistic spirit, most strongly in London, England. This magnificent city was Alan’s hometown. He lived in the theater district. I could feel the pull of his larger than life personality every time the London Tube sped by his neighborhood. If we had spent another day there, I would have enjoyed exiting the Tube and walking quietly in the art district.
Alan in the garden of his London home.
This has been an amazing year for me. I have expressed my creativity in many ways. And I have endeavored to make life a little more tender in myriad ways as well. I owe much to Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman. I feel a hint of sadness that this Year of Inspiration is drawing to a close. However, I will continue to carry Alan’s words in my heart, seeking tenderness in life, making robust art. I do it to honor him. I do it to expand my soul and enlarge my life.
“Alan deplored injustice, inequality and hypocrisy. He loved the industry he worked in, and the potential of art for everyone. His celebrity status was irrelevant, except as a tool to help give light to all the things he believed in. That light still shines.” Ian Rickson
I came across that last quote, unexpectedly, a couple of nights ago. I had intended to write this thanks to Alan that day, and yet I was held off, told to wait. It was not the right time. I needed to read those words, by a good friend of his. I needed to know that Alan’s light is not extinguished from this world, after all. It is still shining brightly, illuminating dark places and warming hearts. That light has touched my life.
Thank you, Alan.