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I, like everyone else who was lucky enough to be born with ears, was devastated to hear the news of David Bowie’s passing. He was an artist, an innovator, an icon, a hero.
Bowie’s golden years aren’t over yet. Living by his example will perpetually be in fashion. No matter if you’re a graphic designer, a copywriter or Vanilla Ice, you can succeed by doing what David Bowie did.
If it doesn’t exist, invent it
David Bowie became famous for a genre that didn’t exist when he started. While other bands were singing about “Brown-Eyed Girls” and “Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie”s, he performed songs about space flight and starmen, scary monsters and grave diggers. Bowie didn’t stop to check with his manager to see if he could be innovative— he was a rebel. Rebels believe in their ideas and take life by the red shoes. That’s like you getting employee of the month at your book store for selling the most pizzas. It’s time to start using beer kegs as furniture, turning comic books into clothes and launching that video streaming site that also delivers kosher sandwiches you’ve always wanted, Netflix and Dill.
If you have a good idea, you have to ignore the old rules and say let’s dance.
You’re a rock star, not a rock
Rocks don’t change (except when they’re under pressure), but you can reinvent yourself whenever you feel like it. Bowie was born David Jones, but he changed his name once he took to the stage so as not to be confused with the Monkee/pirate.
He got bored with that name after a while and reinvented himself again—Ziggy Stardust. In his time, he was also known as the Thin White Duke, the Sovereign, the Man Who Fell to Earth, the Goblin King, and “Bowster” by that one guy in my office. He wore dresses, tailored suits, makeup, jumpsuits, sparkly jackets and a different color in every eye.
You should reimagine yourself with the same degree of vigor. If you decide to take up running, call yourself Swifty Goldblaze and fully invest in the ch-ch-changes. You aren't a jogger, you are the concept of jogging. Make people re-think the way they propel themselves with their feet.
Don’t react, innovate
We live in an era where we’re one probe away from finding life on Mars and Sylvester Stallone could win an Oscar for acting. Anything is possible.
When young Americans fought for equal rights, Bowie was one magic dance step ahead. He brought MTV to task for not playing videos by black artists. He moved to an apartment in west Berlin while the view was still obstructed by a rather unsightly wall. Bowie performed for Marys who wanted to be Tonys, because they were the ones who needed a hero.
We can be heroes, too, if we follow suit. Don’t be complacent and wait for things to get better. It’s time to tell Mark in accounting his sexist jokes aren’t funny. Support minority artists. Buy eco-friendly products.
When your time comes, you want to be able to look back on your own life and think, “I Bowied the hell out of that."
C.J. Tuor performs with the improvised drinking thriller “Hitch*Cocktails” every Friday night at The Annoyance Theatre in Chicago.