The world suffered a massive loss this week with the passing of creative icon David Bowie. I’m writing about this, not because of how deeply I admired him, as many of you know me well will be aware, but more because of how loss has the capacity to unearth previous losses and a depth of hurt that often lies buried. This layered grief has the power to stop you in your tracks. However painful, this can be viewed a gift.
I do not often speak of the reasons that propelled me into the work I do now. When I was twenty-three, I lost my father. He was a young man at 52, with visions yet unlived. He suffered cancer for 18 months, just as Bowie is reported to have, and suffered a heart attack prior to the cancer, again in similar fashion. These parallels are not lost on me and I have wept for the suffering both men have endured.
But, I have learned that good things do come from loss and facing our own mortality. The harsh reality is that you can’t count on having tomorrow, so you must make the most of every day.
I realized that it is a mistake to choose anything but living in a way that lets you thrive and supports the expression of your true gifts. For if you are thriving you have greater stamina to give, and it is in the creating and giving that lies the greatest joy.
I have also learned that while challenge can be a positive motivating force, the stress from struggle and fight, which often ends up internalized, is damaging and potentially life threatening. Our culture tells us not to ‘quit’, yet I suggest examining anything in your life that is dragging you down. Is it time to let go of, or at least reduce your energy and commitment to that which is negative? It’s hard when you’re ‘in’ something to see it clearly. Perspective is everything.
“As you get older, the questions come down to about two or three. How long? And what do I do with the time I’ve got left?” David Bowie
For Bowie it was clear. He kept creating with fervor. He wanted to start another album. And he spent time with family. The world simplified.
Life is so busy we don’t often stop to reflect on how our life is going. Use the pause that comes with grief as an inspiration to check in on your own life. Self-reflection through active thought, meditation and journaling, and discussion with supportive people can help you gain clarity.
Remember you have choice every day. Be mindful of what you choose to think about and what you choose to spend your time on for this is what you attract more of. Discover and live your purpose. Invest your time and energy well. Create a life of which you can be proud of.
As Bowie taught us, it’s never too late to reinvent.