This wasn’t at all what I had planned on posting today, but when I woke this morning to the news that David Bowie had quietly passed away yesterday, I couldn’t imagine writing about anything else. With shock and sadness I read post after post stating that this ethereal starman had died of liver cancer 18 months after being diagnosed. At first I thought I was crying because one of my greatest influences had been taken by cancer, and then I realized I was actually crying because I was utterly overwhelmed by his dignity and dedication to his creative life. He released his last album “Blackstar” on January 8, his 69th birthday, just 2 days before his death. I truly believe that his life force and creative process were so intertwined that he was completely tapped in during these final months, and he was able to offer this “parting gift” almost simultaneously with his return to the stars. Awe inspiring.
In case this reality has somehow escaped you, let me offer the only statistic I’ve ever read that applies across the board: 1 in 1 beings born will die. Yes, you too. The only guarantee we get in this world is one breath in, one breath out, and like my grandma used to say, “sugar, no one gets out alive.” You were lucky enough to be born, that alone should inspire feelings of awe and reverence, and as far as we know for sure, we only get one of these, so in light of David Bowie’s bright, brilliant light, I think it’s a good day to talk about living well to die beautifully.
What struck me the most reading interviews and quotes by the unrivaled Mr. Bowie, was that he experienced the unique human event of spending his time on earth dedicated to his life’s purpose, his soul’s code, his calling, as it were. To quote James Hillman from “The Soul’s Code,” his unparalleled work on the soul, character, and calling, “the ‘acorn theory’…holds that each person bears a uniqueness that asks to be lived and that is already present before it can be lived.” In essence, he’s stating that each of us are born into this world with a purpose, something to which our soul is called, and many of our inner and outer struggles are born of neglecting that purpose. For most humans, our soul’s code requires seeking, because as children these natural tendencies are diverted to “important” tasks, like how to tie our shoes, make a bed, sit still in school, and become productive members of society. This isn’t to say these tasks don’t have their place, but what of the more dazzling skills we’re born to examine? The child who daydreams is encouraged to get his or her feet on the ground, but what’s so impressive about the ground when you can have your head in the stars? Does someone with his feet on the ground create Ziggy Stardust? I’m mostly sure they do not.
What do you want to do with the time you have left? And remember, you have exactly no idea how long that is. I could survive all this only to drop dead of an aneurysm tomorrow. No one gets out alive, sugar. The further along I journey with my cancer, the more apparent it becomes that my purpose is demanding to be heard. I was in a career that I happened to be naturally good at, care taking is one of my inherent skills, and I have always been interested in health. To the outside observer it all fit, and to me it was fine, definitely better than the myriad of careers I held before becoming a home health PT, but it doesn’t speak to my soul’s code. I had become bored, uninspired, and disillusioned working in healthcare, and it was numbing my spirit. I wouldn’t wish what I’ve been through on anyone, but it’s also forced me to stare down the barrel of my choices, and I’m choosing to seek a fulfilled life because of it. I don’t know what that means, exactly, but I do know that we all have the ability to follow our passions, whether it’s after work, on the weekends, or all day long, and the gift we give humanity by doing so is one of beauty and inspiration.
The next question becomes what will I do with my return to purpose? I don’t know, but since I have the potential of a superman, I’ll most certainly do something that makes my soul soar. As a child I loved writing, and wrote often with great joy until the fear of not being “perfect” took over. I’ve taken writing out of the compartment I’d shoved it into somewhere in the back of my brain and love the feeling of connecting to that again. I love teaching Pilates. I love it with the passion I always wanted to feel for physical therapy, therefore, I think I’ll be doing more of that. Whatever I do, it will be done with my soul’s code as its nucleus, and David Bowie will continue to be one of my principle teachers. Thank you for the parting gift of “Blackstar,” for your passion, and for the stellar gift of your life. I am permanently altered because of it.