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Lions Roar : May 2016
transience and contingency: “I have always followed some of the tenets of Buddhism, especially the one about change... Change is our river. It means an awful lot to me.” “Are we big enough and mature enough,” he once asked, “to accept that there is no plan, no going somewhere, no gift of immortality at the end of all this? Maybe we have to live and exist on the idea that we have one day at a time. Can we do that? Because if we could, we may be serving some really great thing.” In the music video for the Blackstar track “Lazarus”—released just three days before his passing on January 10—Bowie seems to let us watch as he rehearses letting go and becoming one with death. The imagery signifies the final drama: Bowie as a button-eyed, elegant man on his deathbed clutches at his bedclothes and reaches outward with an appeal: “Look up here man, I’m in danger / I’ve got nothing left to lose.” Bowie as a sacred jester, dressed in a skintight black-and-white-striped bodysuit, struts and recalls his life and his ego’s drive: “By the time I got to New York / I was living like a king.” As the song builds, Bowie the jester grasps a pen frantically creating, while Bowie the man on his deathbed lifts upward in transcendence, proclaiming VIDEOCAPTUREVIAVEVO “This way or no way / You know I’ll be free.” Like so many people, I was hit hard by Bowie’s death—surprisingly hard. As I sat with my adult son, talking, crying, and playing Bowie’s records long into the night, it became clear why I, and we, felt so strongly about his death: Bowie had always been like a secret friend. “Don’t believe for one second I’m for- getting you,” he sang, and now, even in death, he would squeeze my hand and we would smile at the darkness together, knowing that our freedom and our tran- scendence do not need to be grasped but held gently, like a precious jewel in an open hand. As I looked at the wonderful photos of a resplendent, still-radiant Bowie taken days before he died, and read the words of his family, friends, and the phy- sician who cared for him, I realized that he had given us all a final gift—coura- geously reckoning with his own demise and offering his art, like incense, at the altar of his life. Like the Zen masters of old, he knew that death gives life its exis- tential meaning; it’s the mystical power that gives our transient waltz verve, sweat, and swing. Perhaps, like him, we too can learn to transmute daily life and transcend the limits of ordinary exis- tence, to live boundlessly in the dance halls of eternity. ♦ Presents HH DRIKUNG KYABGON JEWEL HEART Tickets on sale at www.emutix.com www.jewelheart.org Saturday, May 7 2–6pm Eastern Michigan University Pease Auditorium Ypsilanti, Michigan HH Drikung Kyabgon_LR ad .33 vert_2.indd 1 2/11/16 1:32 PM LION’S ROAR | MAY 2016 22 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE