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Thank you Matthew Perry

The untimely death of Matthew Perry, who was found unconscious at his LA home has been marked by millions around the world with an outpouring of love and gratitude, mostly for the joy he brought through his portrayal of lovable, twinkly-eyed, wise-cracking Chandler Bing, in Friends. Of course, this was an iconic time in his career and one that indeed did bring much laughter and companionship to viewers globally for an enduring length of time.

Picture of Matthew Perry

However, I was most interested in another of the anecdotes going around, from an interview Matthew gave in Toronto in 2022, when he spoke about how he'd like to be remembered after his death.

Matthew said: "When I die, I don't want 'Friends' to be the first thing that's mentioned. I want [his work to help addicts] to be the first thing that's mentioned, and I'm going live the rest of my life proving that. I would like to be remembered as somebody who lived well, loved well, was a seeker and his paramount thing is he wants to help people. That's what I want."

As well as this being a poignant way to honour Matthew, after his tragic passing at the age of 54, it made me think about what makes a career defining moment – ie. something that’s first mentioned on someone’s death – and how this ‘thing’ is so often dictated by what other people perceive to be our success, rather than how we see it ourselves.

So often our society values the headline, the job title, the pay grade, the working hours, over the satisfaction a job brings us personally and deeply. Sometimes it can be a long and tough road to discover what success means to us. A former addict himself – Matthew spoke openly about his ferocious substance abuse and alcoholism – through his recovery, he had found a new purpose to his life beyond the thing that he initially became famous for.

It serves as a reminder that we all have an opportunity to rewrite our narrative.

It serves as a reminder that we all have an opportunity to rewrite our narrative. Matthew dedicated the latter part of his life to helping others, especially those with addition issues, and his mission to help other people in their recovery was key to his purpose for the rest of his life.

In short, he had reinvented his values and his focus, and that is what he wanted to be his legacy on this earth, ahead of his time in Friends.

It also made me think about how I would like to be remembered and I think it’s a useful exercise for us all, to sit for a few moments and think about what you would like to be the first thing mentioned when you pass away. Can you say it mentally, just a few sentences?

For me, my legacy is not tied into a job title, or even a list of accomplishments or skills. I would like my legacy to reflect how I made people feel, and how I helped them to think differently in some way, so that their life could improve.

So there we have it – for anyone who needs it – a quick exercise to discover what is most important to you in life. And if you’re not there yet, a reminder that it’s never too late to reinvent and start that journey, so that you are remembered the way you wish to be. Though Matthew’s life was cut short, he know what his purpose was,

Thank you Matthew, for living, loving and helping people. Me included.

May you rest in peace.


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