What have I learned from David Bowie? One year on.

Hey, I’m back! It took me a year to find the strength, courage and inspiration to finally put pen to paper, and talk about the impact that David Bowie’s life has had on me, a Wild-eyed Girl from Freecloud (or Chi-town, as it were.) Shall I write this list out AS a list, with bullet points, et al? Or shall I simply expound, at length, about the socio-economic impact of such a great artist as one David Robert Jones, a.k.a. David Bowie, blah, blah, blah…

No, screw it. I’m just going to speak from my heart, being the Lady Grinning Soul that I am. It is no coincidence that I not only espoused that moniker for my social media presence, or that it’s stuck with me ever since I started the transformation process and came back to life in 2009. It’s no accident that, rather than adopt a Duran Duran-related nickname, or something else, I’ve stayed true to the Lady Grinning identity, because being a Bowie fan, or ‘AlassInsane’ is who I am, just as much as being a Duran Duran fan is. The two aren’t mutually exclusive; they are intertwined within the very essence of my being.  Besides, no true Duranie fails to see the connection between Bowie and Duran- they’re like cookies and milk, a beautiful partnership.

David, I promised that I’d intertwine your legacy in my life in such a way as that it can never be extricated, and so far, I’ve made good on that promise, one year after you’ve gone. In the 367 days since you’ve left this earth for another, hopefully better one, I’ve completed phase 1 of an art exhibition, highlighting the staggering greed that pervades every aspect of our society. It’s a very Buddhist principle, leading up to the Three Poisons, and I know you would approve of it.

I’ve also strived to shine a light on the painful struggles of sexual abuse survivors, to not only break the shame which often surrounds silence, but to hopefully inspire others to speak out and share their stories and struggles too. I know that you preferred to stay in the shadows, but that you did care a lot about others, and helped many people from behind the scenes, not wishing to draw too much attention to yourself.

My light will also continue to shine on other injustices in the world, which I will keep fighting to change. In your own way, you too were an activist, and I will continue to follow in your footsteps, as an artist for social justice.

And finally, I will be celebrating your life and your legacy one more time, and also not wasting any time by wishing I could see more of the world- I’m doing it. I’m traveling to Barcelona this spring, to see the exhibition you approved.  I think it would be a fitting gesture, to honor your memory.

I don’t share all this in order to brag; I simply want to show how much David Bowie still means to me, and always will. From the first time I saw Labyrinth through the time that this shy, awkward girl was convinced that she too had fallen to earth from another planet, just like her idol, his music, words and imagery have captured my imagination, and have resonated so deeply with me for so long now, it’s hard to remember how life was before David Bowie, and it’s even harder to embrace life without him. He not only taught me that it’s OK to be different, he showed me that someone else out there was just like me, in many ways. One of my mantras for this life is “if David Bowie did it, so can I,” and it’s a mantra I intend to use a lot more of this year, as we head deeper into the abyss of an uncertain future.

I demand a better future, and believe in guardian angels. If anyone is watching out for us, you’d better believe it’s the Starman, who is now one with the cosmos!

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