You and I, we are part of a shared humanity. And there is so much we can give to each other, from near or afar, like a hope, purpose, a sense of self – even in the face of suffering.
I am reminded of this on the anniversary of David Bowie’s death. Indeed, you can think of your own examples of people that may have touched your life from afar, even though you have never met.
In our shared humanity we share the need for meaning and belonging.
We share our need for purpose, identity and community – even if we prefer our own company and solitude.
Our lives consist of ebb and flow, coming and going, life and death.
We may struggle to make our mark, to make ends meet, to be creative and fulfilled. We have dreams, hopes, disappointments, drama and trauma.
Often we look from afar to others for support and guidance, and are attracted by their creative expression, wisdom and aura.
David Bowie provided a creative home for meaning and belonging.
For many, people like David Bowie and others provided and continue to provide a sense of belonging and hope that their is meaning and value in who we are. And that we, too, can find means of expressing our individualism.
In our shared humanity strangers can touch our lives and give us a sense of belonging, meaning, direction and hope.
David Bowie’s ability to re-invent himself made him constant, like a river, moving, unstoppably, without an end. Yet, he, too, had an end.
You, too, have meaning.
It might not feel like it, but people will have a shared connection with you, too.
You, too, can touch and enrich others’ lives in ways you may never know.
Without knowing it, you too, may be teaching others about living and coping with pain.
The value of our shared humanity when life is hard.
Many people shared the shock and grief when David Bowie died, his memory since and the anniversary of his death.
When others who are connected to us die, it can feel like a part of us has died. The moment I heard of David Bowie’s death I felt old and my teenage years an even longer distant past.
Whatever your age, you may have already experienced the same, or this is something yet to come.
Bereavement and grief are as individual as you and as the person who has died.
I find that each time I grieve it is different – with its ebb and flow and its unpredictabilities.
2. Our health and our creativity.
You may be concerned for your health or that of others.
Whether you are affected by illness, or not, you may know its draining and debilitating impact on hope, creativity and self expression.
That is why I was so struck by David Bowie’s creative productivity right to the end of his life. His last album “Black Star“, released two days before his death, integrated his personal experience of illness and mortality into his art and vice versa.
Not everyone will have the energy, opportunity or inclination to be creative when faced with illness. There is no right or wrong in any of this.
A chronic, life-shortening or terminal diagnosis can shatter our spirit (whether you are the person with the illness, a relative or friend).
Nothing is or will ever be again what it was. Everything is called into question.
We may struggle with meaning and purpose. Because very little is left predictable and certain – apart from death.
3. Our spirit can be strong.
Illness can make us invisible, if we let it.
I for one draw hope from those who manage not to be deterred. Those who carry on with whatever they need to do, to keep identity and meaning.
Having been treated for cancer myself, I share in the same struggle of others across our world, to stay motivated, focused and not allow fear to compromise who I am.
Self motivation can be a daily struggle, a daily task and a daily affirmation of commitment to ourself and the life we still have.
As the heroes of yester-years pass, so the inescapable truth of our own death manifests itself firmly in our conscious.
We are vulnerable mortals.
There are people, you and I will have only memories of. And at some time, others will only have memories of us.
You may be considering your own mortality. Or you may not yet have thought about it.
You may be frightened of death. Or you may be at peace with its inevitability and at peace with yourself.
I believe that fear of death renders us vulnerable to an inner emptiness.
Fear of death can eat away at our soul. It could be a soul-less death.
5. We have a chance.
Talking about death is becoming more and more common, and I think we should draw strength from that.
In our shared humanity lies a shared opportunity. You and I, we can help each other in the process of making peace with our death – now. Not just at the end of our lives, but right now, in the midst of our lives. I know this can be hard and frightening.
But in my experience, those who manage to talk about, prepare for and share the pain of a life coming to an end, will also share so more fully the joy for the life that has been.
And what a legacy is that!
6. We have power.
You and I, like David Bowie before us, have the power to make a difference to our own lives and that of others, whatever our circumstances.
Hold on to your power and your wisdom. Share both in your own, very personal way with us all, with humanity.