Category Archives: Inspiration

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John Cleese’s Eulogy for Graham Chapman

Graham Chapman, co-author of the ‘Parrot Sketch,’ is no more.

He has ceased to be, bereft of life, he rests in peace, he has kicked the bucket, hopped the twig, bit the dust, snuffed it, breathed his last, and gone to meet the Great Head of Light Entertainment in the sky, and I guess that we’re all thinking how sad it is that a man of such talent, such capability and kindness, of such intelligence should now be so suddenly spirited away at the age of only forty-eight, before he’d achieved many of the things of which he was capable, and before he’d had enough fun.

Well, I feel that I should say, “Nonsense. Good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard! I hope he fries. ”

And the reason I think I should say this is, he would never forgive me if I didn’t, if I threw away this opportunity to shock you all on his behalf. Anything for him but mindless good taste. I could hear him whispering in my ear last night as I was writing this:

“Alright, Cleese, you’re very proud of being the first person to ever say ‘shit’ on television. If this service is really for me, just for starters, I want you to be the first person ever at a British memorial service to say ‘fuck’!”

You see, the trouble is, I can’t. If he were here with me now I would probably have the courage, because he always emboldened me. But the truth is, I lack his balls, his splendid defiance. And so I’ll have to content myself instead with saying ‘Betty Mardsen…’

But bolder and less inhibited spirits than me follow today. Jones and Idle, Gilliam and Palin. Heaven knows what the next hour will bring in Graham’s name. Trousers dropping, blasphemers on pogo sticks, spectacular displays of high-speed farting, synchronised incest. One of the four is planning to stuff a dead ocelot and a 1922 Remington typewriter up his own arse to the sound of the second movement of Elgar’s cello concerto. And that’s in the first half.

Because you see, Gray would have wanted it this way. Really. Anything for him but mindless good taste. And that’s what I’ll always remember about him—apart, of course, from his Olympian extravagance. He was the prince of bad taste. He loved to shock. In fact, Gray, more than anyone I knew, embodied and symbolised all that was most offensive and juvenile in Monty Python. And his delight in shocking people led him on to greater and greater feats. I like to think of him as the pioneering beacon that beat the path along which fainter spirits could follow.

Some memories. I remember writing the undertaker speech with him, and him suggesting the punch line, ‘All right, we’ll eat her, but if you feel bad about it afterwards, we’ll dig a grave and you can throw up into it.’ I remember discovering in 1969, when we wrote every day at the flat where Connie Booth and I lived, that he’d recently discovered the game of printing four-letter words on neat little squares of paper, and then quietly placing them at strategic points around our flat, forcing Connie and me into frantic last minute paper chases whenever we were expecting important guests.

I remember him at BBC parties crawling around on all fours, rubbing himself affectionately against the legs of gray-suited executives, and delicately nibbling the more appetizing female calves. Mrs. Eric Morecambe remembers that too.

I remember his being invited to speak at the Oxford union, and entering the chamber dressed as a carrot—a full length orange tapering costume with a large, bright green sprig as a hat—-and then, when his turn came to speak, refusing to do so. He just stood there, literally speechless, for twenty minutes, smiling beatifically. The only time in world history that a totally silent man has succeeded in inciting a riot.

I remember Graham receiving a Sun newspaper TV award from Reggie Maudling. Who else! And taking the trophy falling to the ground and crawling all the way back to his table, screaming loudly, as loudly as he could. And if you remember Gray, that was very loud indeed.

It is magnificent, isn’t it? You see, the thing about shock… is not that it upsets some people, I think; I think that it gives others a momentary joy of liberation, as we realised in that instant that the social rules that constrict our lives so terribly are not actually very important.

Well, Gray can’t do that for us anymore. He’s gone. He is an ex-Chapman. All we have of him now is our memories. But it will be some time before they fade.

21 Ways To Celebrate Life

malfaceThis was written by Mallika Chopra’s (daughter of Deepak Chopra) friend, Nancy Rothstein.  It was sent to her to commemorate the 21st birthday of her son, Josh, who was tragically killed when he was 15.

She wrote to Mallika:

After Josh was killed, I was seeking a way to offer a tribute for family and friends to honor his birthday. Out of such profound loss and sadness, I wanted to create something that would give people inspiration and help them find joy in the gift of life….while it is still theirs.

Josh answered by “communicating” to me…. just before his 17th birthday…”Ways to Celebrate Life.” Each birthday since, Josh has given me a “way” to add to his list. I hope that Josh inspires you to embrace and to celebrate life….and I know he would want you to have fun along the way.

1. Smile. Smiling makes you and those around you feel good. If you don’t feel good, a smile can trick your brain into feeling better.
2. Eat ice cream.
3. Run on the beach. If you can’t physically do this, use your imagination.
4. Call someone who is ill or lonely. Listen to their story. Take the time. Tell them your story, if they ask.
5. Listen to music that touches your heart and soul.
6. Sing in the shower, or out loud if you are comfortable.
7. Visit the grave of a loved one and celebrate your continued BREATH. And tell your loved one what’s on your mind.
8. Play with a dog.
9. Thank yourself for putting up with all the things about yourself that drive you nuts! Activate your sense of humor!
10. Apologize to someone you have wronged in any way.
11. Take a day, or even a few hours, “off” to do something you always want to do but never take the time to do.
12. Eat something you never indulge in (unless allergic!) and savor every bite….slowly. No guilt permitted!
13. Re-watch your favorite funny or happy movie in your most comfortable clothes.
14. Make plans with 2 friends that you are crazy about but never see…near or far away.
15. Go outdoors to a natural setting. Sit. Close your eyes. Listen to the world. It’s all an extension of you! Your breath connects you intrinsically to the world.
16. Laugh. Do something fun or silly that evokes laughter. It has been said that laughter is God’s sunshine.
17. Place this list in an envelope and revisit it periodically to see how you are celebrating YOURSELF! If you are good to yourself, you can be much better to those around you.
18. Go to your heart and make all your decisions from there; and all will be well.
19. Follow the path that matters.
20. Believe and feel the change you want to see and you will BE the change you envision.
21. ….Yet you must know that in the end, it is LOVE’s garden you must tend.

Read the full post and be completely inspired here.

Famous Eulogies – Mahatma Mohandas Ghandi

97p/24/huty/7238/13This very moving eulogy was delivered by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, in February 1948.

Friends and comrades, the light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere. I do not know what to tell you and how to say it. Our beloved leader, Bapu as we called him, the father of the nation, is no more. Perhaps I am wrong to say that. Nevertheless, we will not see him again as we have seen him for these many years. We will not run to him for advise and seek solace from hi, and that is a terrible blow, not to me only, but to millions and millions in this country, and it is a little difficult to soften the blow by any other advise that I or anyone else can give you.

The light has gone out, I said, and yet I was wrong. For the light that shone in this country was no ordinary light. The light that has illumined this country for these many years will illumine this country for many more years, and a thousand years later that light will still be seen in this country, and the world will see it and it will give solace to innumerable hearts. For that light represented the living truth … the eternal truths, reminding us of the right path, drawing us from error, taking this ancient country to freedom.

All this has happened when there was so much more for him to do. We could never think that he was unnecessary or that he had done his task. But now, particularly, when we are faced with so many difficulties, his not being with us is a blow most terrible to bear.

A madman has put an end to his life, for I can only call him mad who did it, and yet there has been enough of poison spread in this country during the past years and months, and this poison has effect on people’s minds. We must face this poison, we must root out this poison, and we must face all the perils that encompass and face them not madly or badly but rather in the way that our beloved teacher taught us to face them.. The first thing to remember no wish that no one of us dare misbehave because we’re angry. We have to behave like strong and determined people, determined to face all the perils that surround us, determined to carry out the mandate that our great teacher and our great leader had given us, remembering always that if, as I believe, his sprit looks upon us and sees u, nothing would displease his soul so much as to see that we have indulged in any small behaviour or any violence.

So we must not do that. But that does not mean that we should be weak, but rather that we should in strength and in unity face all the troubles and difficulties and conflicts must be ended in the face of this great disaster. A great disaster is a symbol to us to remember all the big things of life and forget the small things, of which we have thought too much.

A Piece Of My Father

2006_4974Some people keep their loved one’s ashes in an urn on the mantelpiece; others scatter them to the wind. A contemporary artist, however, has decided to pay tribute to his late father by using his cremated remains as part of a new artwork.

Created by London-based artist Jason Schulman, the piece comprises suspended particles extracted from the ashes of his father by use of a magnetic field – together with brightly coloured elements, which have been meticulously sorted, sieved and filtered from his father’s remains.

“My father died, he was 92, and I went to collect his ashes from the funeral director,” Shulman said. “While I was there a thought dropped into my mind from a book I once read as a child about how, if you broke the human body down, you could get something like six erasers, four pencils, four horseshoe nails and things like that. What I particularly remembered was the iron in the body for the horseshoe nails.”

After being given a tour of the crematorium and a detailed explanation of the processes that go into the cremation of the human body, Shulman took the plastic bucket full of his father’s ashes back to his studio to test out the iron theory.

“I got a huge electromagnet and sifted the remains, which are like coarsely ground coffee, and all the iron basically stuck to the magnet.”

Emboldened by this remarkable discovery, he then spent the next couple of months meticulously filtering all the colours – the greens, the reds and the blues – visible in the remains, which appear as a result of the bones oxidising.

“It’s a very cathartic process to go through and it’s quite shocking coming across gallstones or a filling,” he added. “A great anvil drops on your head at the enormity of the experience. I think I kind of connected and disconnected with him at the same time – and to be honest I’m still surprised I did it.”

The finished piece features beautiful stratified layers of colour and iron encased in a glass tube, which is precariously suspended by a thin thread above a concrete floor. If a heavy lorry trundles along the road outside the gallery, the whole piece shakes as though it could fall at any moment – effectively evoking a second level of mortality and adding a strangely human dimension to the work.

Read more about the artist Jason Schulman here.

On the topic of hope

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Sherwin Nuland was a practicing surgeon for 30 years and treated more than 10,000 patients. Now he is an author and speaker on topics no smaller than life and death, our minds, our morality, aging and the human spirit.

His 1995 book How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter demythologizes the process of dying. Through stories of real patients and his own family, he examines the seven most common causes of death: old age, cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, accidents, heart disease and stroke, and their effects. The book, one of 10 he has written, won the National Book Award and spent 34 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. His latest book is The Art of Aging: A Doctor’s Prescription for Well-Being.

In the video above, taken at TED in 2003, Sherwin meditates on the idea of hope — the desire to become our better selves and make a better world. It’s a thoughtful 12 minutes that will help you focus on the road ahead.

Celebrate Life

This is a wonderful post that I recently came across and it must be re-posted with all credit to Paul Seiple who wrote it.  He has a great blog so you should should check it out here.

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I usually reserve my little space for pop culture ramblings but this month I want to take a different direction.

Over the past few months celebrity deaths have dominated the news. When your favorite singer, actor, or director passes away you cannot help but feel like part of you passes with them. This is mainly due to all the good times you shared with them even though they do not know your name.

When Michael Jackson died, memories of a past Halloween in which my family (excluding me, I was thirteen and too cool to participate) dressed the part and acted out the Thriller video in our front yard rushed through my mind. Being a music lover, I was sad that we lost one of the greatest figures in the music world, but I was also sad that the years have caught up with my family and no longer can they morph into dancing zombies. But then thinking of my dad jumping out from the bushes dressed like a bloody mummy and scaring kids brought a smile to my face. Don’t worry; kids loved our house on Halloween. They still do, the scaring may have died down but the candy is till top notch.

Recently John Hughes passed away. I was a teenager in the 80’s when Hughes’ films were all the rage. It’s safe to say that with The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Pretty in Pink Hughes was a pioneer in the teen flick genre. To this day, Weird Science remains one of my favorite movies. When I read of Hughes’ death it brought back memories of gathering with my friends to watch these films. Once again, I was sad that the entertainment world had lost one of the greatest directors of my time, but I was also sad that I no longer can gather with my friends and partake in a movie with such ease. Then I thought about me and my friends sitting around imitating a drunken Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science and I smiled.

Over these last few months, death has also taken several people away that at some point in time were a part of my “real world.” In May, an ex-girlfriend passed away from cancer. Even though I had lost touch with her over the years, we shared many memories. As I was reading about the latter years of her life I learned that as she stared into the face of mortality she stayed strong. “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain,” was her favorite quote. Her tenacity to remain positive is a lesson we all should learn.

The quote also sums up the life of another friend that recently passed. I met Mike Jones close to thirty years ago when I moved onto “the block.” (That’s what we all called our neighborhood, it wasn’t original, I know. But we were kids, cut us some slack.) I can’t recall ever seeing Mike without a smile on his face. And believe me, Mike had reasons to be negative. While the rest of the neighborhood kids rode their bikes and played football, Mike couldn’t. He was in a wheelchair. Mike never looked at his life in a negative light. He viewed his life as an opportunity. An opportunity to experience everything he wanted. And he did. Mike loved baseball. He got to work with the Danville Braves. He wanted to find a girlfriend. He did, and it turned into one of the most loving relationships I’ve ever witnessed. Mike was that person that made you a better person for knowing him.

I have many fond memories of Mike. One that sticks out is his love for wrestling. As a kid, I loved wrestling as well. I remember discussing the latest feuds on Georgia Championship Wrestling with Mike while I waited for his brother John to get ready to go outside and play. As John and I went outside Mike returned to his Atlanta Braves game with a smile on his face. He never let the fact that he couldn’t do everything the other kids could wipe that smile from his face. Mike faced many hardships throughout his life but through them all he celebrated life.

Celebrating life is something we all should do. No matter what obstacles are tossed in your life path, rejoice in the fact that you are alive.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to watch “Wildfire” Tommy Rich battle it out with the Masked Superstar. I’m sure Mike would approve.

“Love is stronger than death even though it can’t stop death from happening, but no matter how hard death tries it can’t separate people from love. It can’t take away our memories either. In the end, life is stronger than death.”

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