I’m floating in a most peculiar way.
I feel as though I could write my autobiography using only lines from David Bowie’s lyrics. But, come on! Is that even possible? He was only a rockstar, right?
I keep thinking that in my head. ‘But he was only a rockstar!’ The thing is, he was my rockstar. He spoke to me as a child and he continued to speak to me throughout my life.
You know, I had a nickname for him that had absolutely no base in reality. But it was the most fitting nickname I ever gave a body in my life. I called him LEATHER MESSIAH. I think I always will. But I got it wrong when I was about seven years old when I first heard ZIGGY STARDUST and David Bowie changed me forever. The lyric is, “Like a leper messiah, when the kids had killed the man, I had to break up the band”, but I will always hear it as LIKE A LEATHER MESSIAH. He will always be my leather messiah. His words told me it was okay to be me. I will miss that forever.
I think of his lines on this day when we have lost him and they all seem so apropos of something BIGGER. In The Man Who Sold the World, he sang, “I gazed a gazely stare at all the millions here.” And boy did he ever. Because his lyrics were not only a reflection of his own inner workings, but they were even more so a reflection of us…his listeners. He spoke to us all in such a way as to make us believe the song was ours as much as it was his.
“He’d like to come and meet us but he thinks he’d blow our minds…” ~ so much truth in that line from Starman. David Bowie did blow our minds. But it was in such a subtle way that most of us didn’t notice. He helped usher in a world of acceptance. His androgynous gender bending ways snuck into the mainstream like a ghost in the machine. He said to the world, THIS IS ME. And, by and large, the world responded with a nod. He paved the way for an individuality that was fathomless. The one thing I noticed while I watched the thousands and thousands of images float through social media this morning was that they were all so vastly different from one another. The man was constantly reinventing himself. That challenges norms like no other thing…to find a YOU and then to cast it off like a pair of old jeans. David Bowie knew more than anyone else in the world that, just like the universe, every one of us is in a constant state of flux. We are who we are in any given moment. Nothing is fixed. We could all learn from his many faces. I know I have. I shall never forget the voice which first spoke to me of the transience of self, the voice which first spoke to me of the flexibility of norms and of gender. Here was a man who wasn’t afraid to be whatever he woke up as that day. So delightful in a world that balks at change so often.
I will never forget his hand in shaping me. I try to live by his advice…
“But never leave the stream of warm impermanence…”
For me, that line is about accepting who you are in the moment you happen to be. But it’s also about tolerance…accepting who others are in the moment. Impermanence is a most wondrous thing. It’s a gift, really. In showing us his ability to be a chameleon, I think David Bowie helped us to see we should not fear change.
Wherever he is now, I hope he is rested…and I hope he knows the power his words have carried and will continue to carry. I can’t help but feel he was here to educate the world. To teach us how to love without bias. He may not be the Messiah, but he is my Leather Messiah.
Goodnight, David Bowie. Thank you and Godspeed.
Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do…