On Passing

Time comes and goes, occasionally giving while always taking.

Last week marked the sixth anniversary of my Dad’s death, if such things have anniversaries. Thanks to him, I learned of many forms of music that I still enjoy. I have been reminded of this by the passing of another friend’s Mom and the anniversary of David Bowie’s death. (Again, if such things have anniversaries.)

I happened to watch the video for “Blackstar,” which is a surreal sci-fi horror film mashed into a celebration of all things Bowie. It’s weird on face value, brilliant in terms of the man himself. Take ten minutes to give it a watch:

Visually, this might be the wild adventures of Major Tom’s skull, but it’s the center section, the part that sounds more like a Bowie song, that has so much going on. Keep in mind that the album Blackstar was written with the expectation that it would be Bowie’s last album before his death. (He died two days after its release.)

Something happened on the day he died
Spirit rose a metre then stepped aside
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried
(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)
How many times does an angel fall?
How many people lie instead of talking tall?
He trod on sacred ground, he cried loud into the crowd
(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar, I’m not a gangster)
This section, when I hear it, tells me that in knowing of his death, David Bowie is looking at us and issuing a challenge. When he dies, who among us will stand up and take his place? Because–and this is a deeper implication–someone will take his place.
I won’t try to guess what David Bowie’s place is. The man had enough regenerations to be a time lord. His career not only lasted decades without ending, crossing not only genres, but artistic formats. Singing, writing music, playing guitar, acting, writing a stage play, the man had done it all on his terms (or as he said, “(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)”).
A fun note in that regard: Denis Villeneuve wanted David Bowie to play Wallace in Blade Runner 2049.
So, if someone passes from your life, do what you can to let spirits rise a few meters. Then, in due time, stand up and bravely cry.

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