It’s interesting what happens when we are confronted by the tangibility of our own mortality. I exhale…inhale. And in this moment am flooded with the relief that the inhale is still there.
I scan down my Facebook Home feed and notice that Elizabeth Gilbert, wrote some beautiful words regarding Bowie's most recent album, and video, which he was working on during his final days. She writes, “Can you imagine, to be making art like this (fearless art that both comforts and challenges) right up to the moment of your death? How do you do that? How do you BE that? To work with your death so imaginatively, in order to perfectly time out the last beats of your life? … I am overwhelmed by awe. This is what it means to be a great artist.” In the background I hear him singing, “I’ve got scars that can’t be seen.” My breath gets caught in my throat. My abdomen gives a bottomless throb.
And I wonder to myself, what might it be like to reframe what it is to be an “artist” and make “art.” I know this could be a controversial subject for many artists – I can relate to this with all the discernment of having been a professional performer. Yet one thing I know to be true, my illness flipped my idea of being an artist upside down. When confronted with my own impermanence I realized the potential of every moment being art, if we choose it to be, in it’s horror, dignity, and beauty. As far as art goes, what if everything counted? What if there was no moment to small to be “art?”
Memories waft in, and I suddenly re-experience many versions of “art” for myself, such as walking to the mailbox, spending a day without having heart palpitations from the anxiety of being in the unknown, taking a medium sized breath without pain... And riding a bike again for the first time, well, for me that equaled a masterpiece!
So what if we live like our life is already art? What if we’re all artists, and these precious breathing moments are our palate of colors? What if we could be in awe of our own lives as art? What if we continued to say yes to experiencing the full spectrum of the joy and the brutality of our illness experience, not wanting to minimize any part of it. If all who live will die, and if our life can be lived as “art,” then really we’re all dying for our art? Perhaps, like David Bowie, we can spend these remaining moments making an album of our life. A smile creeps across my face and the thought, that today I can choose to be aware of being artful… full of art.
In my room by myself I lift up my cup of tea to David Bowie and to myself. Both human artists. Both made of stardust. One transcendent of this reality making art in another realm, and one for left here to make art in this moment.
Does this feel true for you? Like/comment below ~