The Sudden Death of David Bowie, and the Brilliance and Beauty We Miss Every Day

Brilliance and Beauty are seductive things.

At first they come to us and they level us with such ferocity and intensity, their newness widely flooding our unprepared hearts. We notice them, we cherish them, we celebrate them—we allow them to overwhelm us.

This is what love looks like.

But over time we grow so used to Brilliance and Beauty’s glorious presence in our lives that we gradually become numb to the gifts they give; our ears slowly deafened until their songs are relegated to merely a background noise that we hardly notice any longer.

We live in our ordinary days believing they are permanent; that what we have we will always have and who we are with we will always have with us, and in this way we overlook just how miraculous and fragile and fleeting those ordinary days really are.

We seem only ever able to truly embrace our treasures once they are just beyond our grasp. We fail to accurately assess people’s preciousness in real-time and ironically the only time we fully celebrate them in the present is when they become past tense; the moment they become the stuff of memory.

When the Brilliance and the Beauty leaves, we finally see it all clearly, exploding in the tragic, breathtaking supernova of a human being.

David Bowie’s life was a uniquely singular display of creativity, talent, and humanity; a once-in-History arrangement of matter and emotion which leaves a massive, unfillable chasm on the planet, and he is rightly eulogized and grieved today.

His genius will never be repeated. His song will never be replaced.

And yet his is no more extraordinary a life than the billions inhabiting the planet this very day; his particular Brilliance and Beauty no more worth acknowledging than their own. You are, even now surrounded by such legendary figures.

You are that brilliant and beautiful too.

We so easily miss the true poetry of people; the depth and power and originality of the song their lives sing over us. Maybe it’s because we’re too close to grasp it all. Maybe that’s why when they leave, we finally get a true understanding of just how big they were to us.

Look around you, my friend. Really see people today. Stop to notice or notice once again, the gorgeous, magnificent, awe-inspiring splendor of those in your midst. Pause to look upon their faces and touch their hands and listen to their songs while you can.

One day their brilliance and beauty will leave this place too.

David Bowie’s sudden passing reminds us that we all take Brilliance and Beauty for granted until they are gone.

Don’t miss the Brilliance and Beauty in your life and in the lives of those you all-too briefly share this space with.

Listen to the songs they are singing.


0 thoughts on “The Sudden Death of David Bowie, and the Brilliance and Beauty We Miss Every Day

  1. How very true. My brilliant and beautiful husband was called Home nearly 6 months ago. Today would have been his 49th birthday. We loved each other beyond what words can say. He was an amazing husband, father, son and best friend. I miss him every minute of every day and with each and every breath… more so today because of all of our lost traditions that we would be doing to celebrate “his day”. Losing someone who is so embedded in your everyday life is staggering, and it makes you acutely aware of those around you that are still here. I love them more deeply, and am more appreciative of their presence in my life. Death is both a curse and a blessing.

    • Your husband was not “called home.” I fail to see how anyone can get comfort out of such nonsense. Your husband died because we live in an imperfect universe where things happen randomly and capriciously—and things just wear out or quit working right—-like that old car you had one time. There is no reason to go blaming God for the death of someone you love. God did not kill your husband at some pre-appointed time. Please—give the Big Guy a break for once.

    • Lori, My thoughts and heart are with you as you move through this day without your husband. Your words are a beautiful tribute to him. As were the words of this post. Thank you John.

  2. It’s important to recognize the Brilliance and Beauty all around us….and leave the destination of the souls who have died to the One Who Created All…I am troubled by several postings whenever someone dies, especially someone famous (or infamous) and because the person did not necessarily live or believe according to the theology of the poster, it is posited that the person went to Hell…
    Since I did not create the Universe ‘ex nihilo’, nor am I asymptotically approaching omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence or N-Dimensionality (N = infinite), I am not the Judge of anyone’s soul; I can say that certain deeds are not in accordance with the tenets of Scripture, as understood by most believers, but there is only One Judge.
    I suspect that there will be people in Heaven that would surprise most believers, and others in Hell that most believers would be sure had the ‘fast-track’ to Heaven….

    Requiescat en Pacem, David Robert Jones

    • Amen #yattwood. I agree 100%. Jesus’ own words (Matthew 7:21-23) make that abundantly clear.

      Thanks for excellent post John. Spot on. As the ubiquitous Joni Mitchell song says, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone…” RIP Davey Jones (DB’s real name)

  3. It came as a surprise and shock to me. My favorite David Bowie song is the one in the video below because it was prophecy—pure and simple. What the song says is what started happening between China and the United States right after Richard M. Nixon and Chou en lai traded their first diplomatic “kiss.” This prophecy is allegorical. Give a close listen and you will see that David’s prophecy came:

  4. I knew of David Bowie’s music when I was growing up, but it wasn’t until I got into my 20s and 30s that I really got into the music and the lyrics – especially when I realized I could actually play some of Carlos Alomar’s guitar parts! But, yes, a profound artist and a profound life.

    Sure hope he lets us know if there’s Life on Mars!

  5. Sorry DB fans! No insult and probably my loss, but I was never into DB stuff, probably cos I was never into music greatly. But I’m really into JP (John Pavlovitz). I was going to give this topic a miss just because DB meant nothing to me, but I’m glad I didn’t. John you are such a star at making something like this into a great life lesson. So what I got from this is: 1. appreciate those around you more every day and see their beauty and brilliance; 2. see yourself as having beauty and brilliance too. Thanks for the great reminders. You rock, JP!

  6. John!   Your posts are so brilliant.   Great was the day I found you – love you bro.

    From: john pavlovitz To: Sent: Monday, 11 January 2016, 10:02 Subject: [New post] The Sudden Death of David Bowie, and the Brilliance and Beauty We Miss Everyday #yiv9925344200 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv9925344200 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv9925344200 a.yiv9925344200primaryactionlink:link, #yiv9925344200 a.yiv9925344200primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv9925344200 a.yiv9925344200primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv9925344200 a.yiv9925344200primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv9925344200 | johndpav posted: “Brilliance and Beauty are seductive things.At first they come to us and they level us with such ferocity and intensity, their newness widely flooding our unprepared hearts. We notice them, we cherish them, we celebrate them—we allow them to overwhel” | |

  7. As a big fan of David Bowie, I was stunned to learn of his death. And amazed at how he handled it, even though it made perfect sense with how he lived his life. No grandiose announcements or drama about his illness and battle with it — just a private, quiet dignity during which time he worked through his impending death through his art and left us incredible music and accompanying video about death. And life.

    Even those who aren’t his fans, and those who don’t fancy pop or rock music, should take a look at his “Lazarus” and “Blackstar” videos on Youtube. They’re hypnotic but somewhat hard to watch. They’re of a man saying goodbye to the world, preparing to go on to the afterlife, embracing what is to come, admitting he doesn’t have the answers, and telling the world that being celebrated as a rock “god,” film star, and cultural icon mean nothing. We all face the same thing in the end. The videos are raw, honest, mystical, hopeful. The art is some of the best he’s ever created.

    Yes, this is a journey we all share and every life is important. But we don’t all handle it the same way. David Bowie stands out for the way in which he embraced the journey, took care of his family, and left behind something exquisite for the world, borne of his suffering, reflection, introspection, and love. I think that’s a great lesson that needs to be highlighted and expounded upon.

  8. beautiful article. thank you. i am a recent widow and i have learned how to appreciate the people in my life more. life can change in a minute. cherish your loved ones while they are still here. thank you. john.

  9. Monday mornings news of Bowies death shocked me. Contrary to Lemmy, Terry Pratchett, B.B. King or Natalie Cole –  Bowies state of health was not issued anywhere.
    The “Station to Station” tour 1976/77 was my first Bowie concert. 5 other Bowie concert followed over the next decades. Bowies music was a part of my life’s soundtrack. Even the fact that i do own way over 30 of his albums (include a few bootlegs) i’m not what you call a Bowie fanatic. I do own much more albums of other artists releases. But Bowie was an artist, who really had something to say with his art.
    I will miss him.

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