“We can be Heroes, just for one day
We can be us, just for one day”
One of my heroes died yesterday.
I didn’t know how I would react to David Bowie’s death because like most of us, I had no idea that he was even ill. Oddly enough, it had never even occurred to me that he could die. Bowie seemed ageless, alien, and immortal to me. He seemed to walk in a liminal place between this world and the Otherworld and my mind never imagined that he wouldn’t just always be there, singing, laughing, and creating beauty in our lives.
But of course David Bowie was all too human. It seems that all of my heroes are imperfect, wounded, and mortal. And like all of us, his time here was finite and brief. I now live in a post-Bowie world, and I think that I feel perfectly fine with that now. That’s not to say that I won’t miss him, but looking back on his life, his death, and his legacy, I can not help but feel anything but joy.
I found out about his passing early in the morning. I had woken up too early and made the mistake of checking social media. As the news hit me and the waves of conflicting emotions that accompany shocking events washed over me, I found that the predominate feeling that I had was a profound sense of gratitude to David Bowie for all he had given me and for all that he had given the world.
“The boy in the bright blue jeans
Jumped up on the stage
And lady stardust sang his songs
Of darkness and disgrace”
– Lady Stardust
I’m don’t think that there is an artist that’s had a greater influence on my life than David Bowie. I discovered his music when I was 12. I was an awkward and strange kid from a broken home, spirit bothered, picked on, and alone. Bowie occupied this strange place in the musical pantheon of my youth. He transcended genres and was respected by almost everyone. David Bowie was unapologetically himself. He was multifaceted, magical, and fae. He lived his life and died his death in his own unique and beautiful way and I feel thankful that I was able to share in even a tiny part of it.
Bowie’s music and presence lifted me from a dark place in my life. The years following that awkward 12 year old me were harsh and punishing. My teenage years were marred by violence and abuse and Bowie inspired me to stand up and live the truth of who I was. He showed me that it was OK to be different and odd, because Bowie was different and odd, and there was no way to deny that Bowie was fucking cool. From Bowie I learned that there is no virtue in conformity, that beauty and magic come from the freaks and weirdos not the drones, and Gods knows this world needs more beauty and magic and fewer drones.
“Oh no love! you’re not alone
You’re watching yourself but you’re too unfair
You got your head all tangled up but if I could only make you care
Oh no love! you’re not alone
No matter what or who you’ve been
No matter when or where you’ve seen
All the knives seem to lacerate your brain
I’ve had my share, I’ll help you with the pain
You’re not alone
Just turn on with me and you’re not alone
Let’s turn on with me and you’re not alone
Let’s turn on and be not alone
Gimme your hands cause you’re wonderful”
– Rock and Roll Suicide
So although the man himself has moved on, we are still left with his legacy and I am left with the gifts that I learned from him. Those gifts tell me to create art, and to live life with joy and style. They tell me to learn from the strange ones, and the misfits, and the monsters,that their truths are as important and often more important than average people’s. They tell me to find the kids that don’t fit in, the weirdos, the freaks, and the outcasts, and remind them that they are not alone and that what makes them different is what makes them special, that what they might see as their burden can be their superpower, that they are important, and valuable, and beautiful no matter what anyone tells them.
and at the end of the day, we still have him. When it all starts to overwhelm us we can always curl up and put on a copy of “Hunky Dory” or “Diamond Dogs”. His body of work is vast and complex and he will always be a star in our sky. For me, I will always have what he has given me, those things are not lost after a death. For me, I will always be grateful to have had my life shaped by
Saint Bowie, Patron Saint of Enchanted Misfits
Thank you David, you will be missed.
“Gentle hearts are counted down
The queue is out of sight and out of sounds
Me, I’m out of breath, but not quite doubting
I’ve found a door which lets me out!
When you rock ‘n’ roll with me
No one else I’d rather be
Nobody here can do it for me
I’m in tears again”
– Rock and Roll With Me