This may teeter somewhere on the yogic realm, but blogging about David Bowie fulfills a need to thank the man who widened my teenage eyes. Growing up in a we-are-all-the-same bubble of white, Catholic suburbia, Bowie had loads to teach me about being a happy teenager.
Not to underestimate his brilliance, which filled the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the gratitude I have for this man has to do with his influence on social norms, or lack thereof. He was my Guru of Self Expression. Split Persona. Ziggy Stardust. Alternate Ego. Aladdin Sane. Individualism. Thin White Duke. Call him what you will. He made me realize that doing what I want is a really big deal; embracing the “AM” in the “I AM”. I understood and accepted ‘teen-me’, knowing that imperfections were not character flaws. And he charismatically taught me that differences in others are OK; including the clothes they chose to wear, the color of their hair, if they are “too thin” or “too fat” and their sexual preference. Bowie got me thinking; Can I be who I want? Can I make a difference? Can I look at the weirdness in another and appreciate that perhaps that is the best part of them?
Listening to his dazzling lyrics, I imagined that we are all seeds that come from the same package, like those packages of mixed wild flowers where you never know what you will get. We land in different soil and grow in a variety of environments and conditions. Together, we make a beautiful garden. To see it any other way was missing the point. The awe of this world is found in our individuality. To be able to embrace that in ourselves leads to acceptance of others.
I was at a yoga class yesterday morning when a few women in their 50’s who were unfamiliar with Bowie’s legacy spoke about his passing. One of them commented that her big brother took her to see him in 1979 when she was 18, not knowing anything about him or his music. When her friends asked about the show, she said her only other standout concert was Lady Gaga; but that Bowie had more elaborate costume changes, better theatrics and a more powerful presence on stage. Then she said what mattered, “he was one of a kind.” Aren’t we all?
Bowie arguably did exactly what he wanted, even in leaving his body on a Sunday, (2 days after the release of his 26th album “Blackstar” on his 69th birthday). In Girl Loves Me, he asks, “Where the fuck did Monday go?” It went to a pouring out of tributes to you, Mr. David Jones. Your final transition aroused a social media storm. The Facebook homepage filled with fascinating stories, dark lyrics, brilliant musical memories and absurd photos. Search your name today and see that you are the freak flag flyer that gave so many permission to do the same.
With three teens of my own, I look at current role models in the music industry and appreciate that Bowie was an innovator with a filter. However outlandish he may have been, he worked through his own conflicts without being offensive. Ahimsa in a pop icon. And to me, David Bowie was the Perfect Act.
“Whatever you do, let it be a perfect act. What is a perfect act? It harms nobody, it brings at least some benefit to somebody. If you have control, you can use anything and everything to achieve some good purpose. Keep that in mind as your goal. Whatever you think, whatever you say or do, ask yourself: ‘Will it harm anybody?’ the answer should be, ‘Absolutely no,’ The next point is, ‘Will it at least benefit somebody?’ The answer should be ‘Yes.’ if it is not benefiting anybody, it is a wastage. So, no harm to anybody, at least some benefit to somebody.” – Swami Satchidananda
Namaste Guru of Self Expression,