“David Bowie changed the course of my life forever. I never felt like I fitted in growing up in Michigan. I found him so inspiring and innovative. Unique and provocative. Seeing him live set me off on a journey I hope will never end” – Madonna
“A master of reinvention who kept getting it right” – David Cameron
“He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way. His death was no different from his life – a work of Art” – Tony Visconti
“Every person, when they’re young, thinks they’re the freak, the outsider, the other, and Bowie, through presenting the freak, the outsider, the other, gave people something to relate to” – Paul Gambaccini
Few deaths make headlines across the globe, inspiring tributes at all levels of society from Prime Ministers and Archbishops to musicians and the masses.
And as the snapshot of tributes above show, Bowie’s legacy hinges on far more than his musical talent.
In the spirit of true legacy, Bowie’s life overshadows his death, sustaining and inspiring with a life-like vividness that transcends physical termination.
And as Bowie makes history, never having had a number 1 in America (until now), I ask you, dear Reader, what does Bowie’s death teach us about living? How will our lives be better for absorbing the magic that he leaves in his wake?
1. Dare to be different
Whether gay, bisexual, cross-dressing or suit-wearing, treat negative reactions as the projections of fear that they are and move confidently in the direction of your dreams. You will inspire with your authenticity and leave an indelible mark on others that will always be remembered. ‘If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be‘.
2. Do what you love
Self-actualisation sits at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – that feeling that you have led your life with meaning, value and purpose and have made a real contribution to the lives of others. If you’re not sure what your purpose is, play to your strengths and your passions and watch money and happiness abound. As the lyrics of ‘Quicksand‘ go: ‘I’m not a prophet or a stone age man, just a mortal with the potential of a superman’.
3. Never stop being kind and giving love
These are the words which pervade Bowie’s tributes not his $230 million net worth. No matter how high you climb, remember – ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel‘. So be kind – always – for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
4. You are what you believe
As the great man himself said: ‘Even from 8 or 9 years old, I thought, well, I’ll be the greatest rock star in England. I just made up my mind‘. So next time you feel tempted to let entrenched negative thinking get in your way, remember Bowie’s words: ‘It’s the kiss of death in creating something‘.
5. Death can be beautiful
In the words of Henry Scott Holland, ‘Death is nothing at all‘. Bowie remains just as real now, if not more so, for his magnificent departure from life. His taboo breaking work of art, ‘Lazarus‘, released three weeks before his passing, reminds us that death is far more than a physical end. It can also be life-defining, rule defying and positively transcendental. For as Shakespeare so beautifully reminds us, legacy is a life-force which well and truly trumps mortality: ‘So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee‘.
6. Appreciate the now
Bowie’s wife, Iman, recently tweeted: ‘Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory‘. So next time you’re about to mindlessly flick through social media, put your phone away and savour those real, human moments happening all around you. Those are the ones you’ll miss.