So I woke up this morning to the news that David Bowie had passed away at the relatively young age of 69, succumbing to his battle with cancer over the weekend. I've been listening to my David Bowie station on Pandora, and reflecting on the impact influential artists make on society. 2016 has been a bad year for artists I love; We lost Wayne Rogers, the actor who played "Trapper" John McIntyre on M*A*S*H - one of the most influential shows of my developmental years - and now David Bowie, whose attitude, style, and charisma have influenced more than one performance on stage for me.
It's hard to think that these people are gone, especially when I can put in a DVD of M*A*S*H, or pull up music videos on YouTube, or - as I am now - listen to music via Pandora - the emotions and memories associated with these people are as fresh as they were the first time I actually understood Space Oddity, the first time I laughed at one of the pranks pulled by Trapper John and Hawkeye.
I don't like to deal with Death - at least, not the deaths of real people. It sends me into a depressive cycle of thought easier than anything else, but I know that if I don't talk about it then grief will build until I just explode on someone or something. So, this time I face Death head on, my heart aching and my nerve shaking, Not just because I need to - but because that is one of the many lessons I've learned from the people I admire.
M*A*S*H taught me that death is gruesome, ignoble, and to hold on to life with every fiber of my being, to my last ounce of energy because once it is gone it is gone forever. And David Bowie taught me to own my fear, to make it a part of me and never let it be used against me. So I will.
I am afraid of Death - I am afraid of the finality of it, I don't want to think about it, I don't want to talk about it. I am afraid of dying myself, of those I love dying around me, of dying anonymously, of being forgotten and of having never made a difference in anything or to anyone.
I thank Wayne Rogers, David Bowie, and everyone else who ever inspired me, supported me, or influenced me, alive or dead, young or old, famous or not. You all gave me the courage and the strength to admit that I'm afraid - and to fight, to wield that fear as a light against the darkness in my mind and in my heart, and the final darkness that looms inevitably at the end of our journey.
As I type these final words, Space Oddity comes on Pandora - and I can't help but sit here and cry. I grieve for the loss of these people, and I rejoice in the knowledge that I am a stronger person because of them.
This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I'm stepping through the door
And I'm floating
in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today
Rest in Peace, David Bowie