You have probably read by now that David Bowie died of cancer a couple of days ago. He was a titan of the artistic community. His body of work (musical, artistic and theatrical) is significant and ever changing. One of my favourite songs of his was Heroes.
Let me be incredibly blunt.
The price of admittance to life is an ultimate death. As someone born in 1968, my musical, artistic and business heroes will continue to die off. There will be calls of “way before there time”, “so unfair” and “they had a great innings” no matter what. The thing is, you rarely get to choose when it is your time.
One of the things I love about Bowie is that he lived. He did not conform to what other thought he should do but travelled his own path. He tried different things, created a multitude of characters and alter egos and made his impact on the world as he saw fit. He failed as often as he succeeded and his only competition appeared to be himself.
What about you? Do you live or do you merely exist?
Too often I have met people who have died and just plod along like zombies. Or maybe they have retired on the inside but still turn up to work and life without “getting into it”.
Often our driving influence is from others telling us to follow the path of go to school, study hard, get a job, get a partner, get married, have kids, buy a house and live happily ever after. This is the perceived “safe” thing to do.
Now more than ever, the safety of this path looks flimsy! In the civilised world where people like me can pontificate and try and tell others what to do with their life, sometimes we are distanced from what truly counts.
What truly counts is this:
It’s your choice. If you are happy on the normal path, fantastic – enjoy it. If not, try something different. Make a big change. Take a chance. Maybe you could combine the normal path with a bit of edge too.
Whatever makes YOU feel happy and complete. Not what I tell you to do, or your parents, your partner, your friends, your work colleagues or anyone else.
This doesn’t mean you abandon your responsibilities. Every choice you make has a cost. For example, you want to have a relationship then you need to commit to that person, spend time with them, consider their needs and contribute to them as well as to yourself. If you choose to ignore them and do your own thing, the cost of that may well be them leaving.
Within your responsibilities and choices are a plethora of opportunities to contribute to yourself, those around you and the community at large. You may end up being a celebrity the like of David Bowie (you may already be), you may be a celebrity in the eyes of those you love.
At the very least, you will truly be alive. Enjoy all that life has to offer and getting everything you can out of it.
“If you’re alive, you got to flap your arms and legs, you got to jump around a lot, you got to make a lot of noise, because life is the very opposite of death. And therefore, as I see it, if you’re quiet, you’re not living. You’ve got to be noisy, or at least your thoughts should be noisy and colorful and lively.”
So it is sad that Bowie has died. But what about you? Are you alive?