While processing the passing of David Bowie, I’ve been struck by the terms being used across media posts and broadcasts. The choices being made to address David Bowie’s journey have been disquieting. We are missing his final gift when we use or repeat the terms being used by the media to address his departure from life.
I have read about Bowe’s “18 month battle with cancer”, and how he was “killed” by cancer. These methods of description further illustrate how detached we have become as a society from the natural path of death. Death is an unavoidable part of our journey on this earth just as our births were. If you literally look at how the media describes his experience, you would have to conclude that David Bowie was a loser. Isn’t that correct? After all, he “lost” his “battle”. We frame many things currently in just this fashion. Think of the “war on terror” or the “war on drugs”. There must always be a winner, and therefore always a loser. Clearly then, we are all setting ourselves up to be “losers” as we will all die.
Describing Mr. Bowie in this manner is completely in opposition to how he himself viewed the death process, and how he desired to leave us viewing the death process. His last gift to us, recorded only last week is a musical and visual testament to just that.
The depth of the artistry by which David Bowie lived his entire life has enriched all of us that have been alive during the time that Mr. Bowie was on this earth. David Bowie, pushed the envelope, played with our embedded pre-conceptions and gave us songs that are beautiful beyond description. There truly has never been anyone quite like him in the music industry.
Clearly David Bowie did not see his final journey as a battle….he shows us through his final song that he viewed his journey as another opportunity to uplift through beauty and art. He gave us a gift through his dying, giving meaning and a soundness to how he viewed the way he chose to live his life.
As we all grieve his death, we will enrich his legacy and our own death process by not thinking in terms of winning or losing a battle with a disease, but about the strength of character and unique vision of a man who made his death into an artistic display to enrich outside of himself. I will remember a man who never apologized for his unique way of viewing the world, and his place in it. I’ll embrace how he communicated his quirky views, his clear voice and strange though beautiful creations.
It has been my experience that when we embrace our eventual death, we truly begin to live each day with greater liberation and self expression. We can start by re-framing how we view the final journey of David Bowie.
Thank you sir for a live well lived.