David Bowie knew a thing or two about life. I was never a great fan; never painted my face with a lightning bolt or donned the outlandish gear (I was nowhere slim enough to carry it off anyway) but I do respect him as an artist. He knew that the only constant in life is change. Everywhere you look things are changing – growing, dying, being born, getting lost.

Leonard Cohen knew a thing or two about life as well, and loss is one of his major themes. Losing hope, losing love, losing your voice (when he went into the Zen monastery near Los Angeles he was known as the silent one; nobody knew who he was.) At Mount Baldy the monks meditated for up to eighteen hours a day and walked through the snow at 2 am to get to the meditation hall. I’m lucky if I manage eighteen minutes; I suppose walking through the snow at 2 am must have had its attractions for someone who’d spent the last thirty years in hotels, but it’s not for me.

Turn and face the strange is Bowie’s line. Greet it, welcome it, invite it in. Make it a really hot cup of tea – because there’s nothing certain in life but change. You think you’ve got it all set up, everything’s in place and you know where you’re headed – and in a heartbeat it can all go. ‘Gone, gone, utterly gone,’ as Richard Rohr puts it.

I used to be prone to nostalgia. Ah, those were the days… but nostalgia can be quite dangerous. It can keep you trapped in a past that probably never even was what it was. There are times when I yearn for the politics of the seventies, but then I remind myself that the seventies were also a time when sexism, racism and homophobia were normal, everyday occurrences. We can only live now and remember that now may be a time we look back on with nostalgia. What will I remember fondly about this time in my life? Impossible to say, but I’m sure there’ll be something. Meanwhile I fondly remember Bowie – and Leonard Cohen.

Kirk out

6 thoughts on “Ch-ch-ch-changes

  1. I was a Bowie fan, from the very beginning, but never to the extent of wearing makeup: I think my look once I had left school [1972] could have been described as ‘generic hippy/hippie’ [never sure which of those is correct.] I think I was a bit arrogantly dismissive about Leonard Cohen at the time, finding his voice somewhat monotonous and conducive to depression, but as with many things, I learned to appreciate him in later life. With regard to change, my head knows how true it is that one should embrace it [and I do, especially where computers are concerned], but my heart finds it difficult: despite having lost my previous enthusiasm for astrology, I still think it has some validity, so as a Cancerian, I do like a tranquil, reasonably predictable home life, and change, especially unexpected and/or significant, can be unsettling. What I resolutely refuse to play is the “getting set in my ways because I’m older” card: my dilapidating body isn’t going to dictate my lifestyle if I can avoid it! Cheers, Jon.

    1. It’s odd how astrology seems to have something to say about character. I don’t buy the predictions at all but I can’t help noticing that the Gemini profile fits me perfectly

      1. I know what you mean; there is definitely something in the personality profiles, but I can’t begin to conceptualise how that works. I did think about casting horoscopes for a while, but it never happened and I can’t say I’m sad about it now. I’m quite happy to include it in the ‘one of life’s may imponderables’ category 😀

  2. I was a Bowie fan from day one. I would never have tried to dress like him or look like him, but I thought he was a musical genius, and still do. Cohen wrote some great songs, but I wish he wouldn’t have sung them too. Listening to him sing made me want to run screaming into the street outside.

    I love nostalgia. It made me what I am today. 🙂

    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Ah but Pete, he was born like that, he had no choice, he was born with the gift of a golden voice

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