This is an archived blog from when I ran Conscious Public Relations Inc. from 2008-2018. Excuse the potential outdated-ness!
David Bowie and other funcomfortable people & situations
David Bowie’s death yesterday reminded me about this sense that I’ve been feeling in a strange way this past week. The first week of the new year is either one in which people feel excited, rejuvenated and motivated to start their resolutions or goals for the year. Or, it’s one in which we’re recovering from the culinary indulgence or the illnesses that we may have caught from family and friends over the holidays. In any case, it’s a combination of both and can result in some unsettling energy in the air, at least for me.
When I was young, my first experience of Bowie was in the movie The Labyrinth (coincidentally, showing at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver this month). It was a very confusing and scary movie for a five year-old, but I was drawn to it because of the girl’s struggle and ultimately triumph. I grew up listening to Bowie, even though my dad didn’t seem to revere him as much as he did other bands from the 70’s. I believe it was because Bowie was very androgynous and my dad didn’t want us to be gender confused. In University, I wrote a paper that included The Man Who Fell to Earth, starring Bowie, and I started to get a sense of why he was so perfect to play the alien character. He was just always in his own skin, which is a different “skin” than what we are used to.
When I started getting into Twin Peaks, a show that Leo loves and introduced me to in 2008, I saw Bowie in the movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992). It was the last place I would see him. He played an FBI agent who had disappeared for two years working on a case, and upon return, is almost completely incoherent and nonsensical in the eyes of the agents listening to his story. It is the opposite of the protagonist character that Kyle MacLachlan plays, and Leo and I had a few conversations about what Bowie’s character meant (until you watch the third season of the new Twin Peaks). Again, it is a condition that seems to only make sense to him.
In the past week I have felt a huge range of emotions: Low energy, gratitude, frustration, sadness, anger, self-pity, confidence, connection with others, fun, laughter, pensiveness, openness, fear. It is not what I would call a normal week, yet it is completely natural and “normal” for a human to encounter contradictory situations, and feel in response to those situations. It’s what I think Bowie was able to express in his music and in the choices he made as an actor. He was a true artist and never seemed to be afraid of what people thought of his art. It’s as if he could not be anything else but himself in a world that has increasingly become a pressure cooker for privileged people to perform and exceed expectations.
It’s nice to have a moment to reflect on the overwhelm, but also the awareness that we can choose peace and quiet. Wherever he is, I hope he is in peace.