On January 10th, 2016, art died.
Or rather, one of the vessels the creative force chose to use in order to get its message across is with us no more. R.I.P. David Bowie. Once in a great while, a person is born who is used as a messenger. David Bowie was one of the chosen.
It's rare, it's beautiful, and it's heartless.
When chosen, the driving force inside the person doesn't take no for an answer. Against all odds, they must create. Break boundaries. Suffer misunderstanding and ridicule. Allow their bodies and minds to be used in an attempt to deliver the message. Because creation has no morals. Its only goal is to create. Change. Make something new.
If you don't believe me, take a look all around you. Nature knows. The only moral is change or die. Or, rather, change and die, anyway. Because death is rebirth. Create. Change. Live. Die.
When creation chose Bowie, it chose a winner. Bowie changed the face of music in ways the world had never seen before. He paved the way for new genres in music. But he also forced social change. He WAS art. He was unstoppable. Until the very end, he created. Knowing he had cancer, he did yet one more album for his fans. It came out on his birthday: Blackstar.
And now he's gone.
Some people never knew the genius of Bowie. They either refused to see it, or were incapable of understanding. Not because they were stupid, or less than. But because their calling is different. For many creatives around the world, he was a driving force that fed us, motivated us, and implored us to get off our asses, get over our insecurities and fears, and get on with what we were put on earth to do: make art. For others, they simply loved his music, and that's valid, too.
But for creatives, it doesn't matter if you make music, paintings, fiction, plays, or any other creative endeavor. If you're a creative, you must create or your purpose here is unfulfilled. And, yet, most of us are not art itself. We're just puking out creation because a little tiny bit of that force is in us. It must be shared. It must be given authenticity, regardless of if we "make it" as an artist or not.
See, for creatives, it isn't necessarily a blessing. It's something that eats at us. It consumes us, and makes us step out, baring our souls—knowing full well there will be many who shame us, humiliate us, make fun of us, and tear our work down. There will be those who use us. And there will be those who say we're fakes.We keep going anyway. We have no choice. It's what we're here for.
I think Billy Idol sums it up in his song, Can't Break Me Down, from his latest album, Kings & Queens of the Underground:
"It's just my natural reaction
When I hit the floor
I'm the original assassin
I come up for more."
As I said, we have no choice. Creation is the original assassin, constantly destroying the old to bring in the new. Create. Change. Live. Die.
But there will also be those who understand, who get the message. And so we create. We find the strength, and we create. Some succeed in a big way. Some keep their creations in the basement. But the force came out, became something, and lived.
For me, Bowie was a large part of my strength. When he sang, "Gimme your hands", I did. It took years, and many different tries at various forms of art, but I eventually found myself. I never let go of those hands. Only an idiot lets go of the hands holding the creative force inside. They fueled me, took the spark of creation I had inside, and lit it into a blaze. Now I write fiction for a living and paint. The painting? It sits in my basement and hangs on my walls. I've sold some. But I don't have time right now to promote both my paintings and my books. So, for now, it's all about my fiction. Will I ever become big? Who knows? It doesn't matter. I create. I make a living, which is rare. I am blessed.
"Gimme your hands."
Yesterday, my world was shattered. One I most admired, one I looked to for direction, was gone. Or so I thought. Now I realize Bowie might not be here on earth, but the driving creative force inside him will never die. It's the essence of life, and I can draw from it anytime I need to. In fact, it insists some do, because creation—or art—can never die.
Those hands still hold mine. I will never let go.
For those of you who didn't understand and appreciate Bowie, I cry for you. You truly missed out on genius. It's rare to live during a time when you can witness one who encompasses so much of the creative force. It doesn't happen every day. Not even every lifetime. Sure, artists, creators, are around all the time, but not in that amount of pure creative energy. He was a rare gift for those of us who paid attention.
Regardless, his message was heard by many. For us who heard, after a day of tears, I laugh with joy. Bowie lived. That's a miracle.
He still lives. That's a fact.
And so it goes.
It always will be.
Caddy Rowland is a novelist and painter. Her social media links follow.
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