As you all know by now, yet another music legend has lost his bout with cancer.
David Bowie was not only a varied and talented musician, he was also a varied and avid reader. Follow the link below to see a list of 100 of his favorite books, courtesy of Lincoln Michel at Electric Lit:
“If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.” ―Adm. William H McRaven
Dear Reader – have you ever considered the impossible entity that is us?
The complex web of human interaction stretching across this globe in order to make the modern world go ’round? How every day, millions upon millions of humans are working toward one single goal; for one single purpose? From the ranch hand in Kansas to the miner in China to the broker in Tokyo – every one, connected.
We are interdependent yet truly replaceable cells in the neural network that makes up mankind.
We all have a purpose and a role to play – every uttered word, every shaken hand, every loving touch is a signal in the network, holding us together as one.
Now, imagine every person as a glowing point on the globe.
Imagine every interaction between those people as a lingering thread of light connecting them. Imagine the incomprehensible series of such threads – events and interactions – that created the device you read this on, the surface you sit on, the clothes on your back, you. How many lives have worked in concert to create everything within arm’s reach; to bring it you, here, now? Thousands? Millions?
Through your mere existence here and now you are connected to all of them, Dear Reader.
Some of those threads have gone unbroken through centuries, bringing you the music of Bach and the ideas of Aristotle. Others have been twisted and turned and spliced together over the years to create new things out of old ideas.
Take a moment now and visualize that web.
It spans not only the globe but the years: a living, moving, pulsating oneness connecting every living human being, now as well as then. And into the future. Ideas travel along the web, taking shape and multiplying, and bit by bit they are realized and created. A computer wouldn’t exist without the technicians, designers and manufacturers who create it; wouldn’t be created without the prospectors, miners, and refiners who gather and create the materials – and if not for the entrepreneurs, investors and businessmen who run the companies there would be no one to pay for it all. Then there’s the transporters, advertisers, sales people, and so on and so forth.
No single person in the web is more important than any other, really.
If one falls, another will take it’s place – or the chain will be broken – and every link on the chain is in turn supported by other people. Family, friends, co-workers, doctors, teachers, role models – they all connect to make us who we are and place us in our unique spot in the network.
We are Legion, for we are Many.
We all rest on the sum of all history and we all support the creation of the future. We all have power to connect, inspire, create, influence, instigate and change people around us – even if the effect is ever so small to begin with, it can end up determining the fate of the world. We can never know in advance what our tiny action today will lead to in the long run: a kind word, a helping hand, an inspiring art work, a comforting touch – that single action might start or re-start a chain of events that changes a life, and by extension the world. Every single thing we do or contribute to carries with it the weight of all that has led up to this moment. Every thing we do, every minute interaction with another, counts.
Thirty nine years ago, a boy and a girl were born half a world apart – today, only one of them gets to celebrate.
The boy – me – I’m still here.
The girl – Mindy McCready – lived to be 37.
I cannot really begin to describe what she came to mean to me over the years, so I won’t even try. ‘Quite a lot’ doesn’t really cut it, but it will have to suffice. I only really got to know her a bit and sadly we never had the chance to meet, but even so the loss of her hit me hard.
So, Dear Reader, I celebrate this day in her memory.
To say that Mindy led a stormy, troubled life is a bit of an understatement. She moved to Nashville at the age of 18, having promised her mother that if she didn’t make it within a year she would go to college. Exactly 51 weeks later she signed her first record deal. Her debut album Ten Thousand Angels came out in 1996 and went gold in six months, and as the video of the title song reached CMT Europe she appeared on my radar. Over the next few years she released two more albums, but dwindling sales led to Mindy being dropped by her label. It took three years for her to sign with a new company and release her fourth album, Mindy McCready, again to poor sales. Once again she found herself without a label.
Her life took a sharp turn for the worse, and she didn’t release any new material for six years. The song I’m Still Here was released as a download on Mindy’s official website, signaling a return to strength and the upcoming album of the same title. It would be her last.
Her career was back on track, the album sold well, and her life seemed to be turning around for the better again. She was busy being a mother and working on a new record with her boyfriend David Wilson. But on January 13th 2013 Mindy found her soul mate on the porch of their Arkansas home, dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Five weeks to the day after his death, she followed him.
”If we are not careful, we end up asking what life tasted like.” —Jonathan Carroll
How would you live your life if you found out that you were going to die?
This question has kept confronting me in various ways the past few years, but life has had a tendency to interrupt and shift my thoughts to more trivial, short term problems. This week, the question was posed to me again, and I started to really think. I think I have an idea now of how I would want to live if my days were numbered – and I’m lucky enough to live a life that is already part-way there. I would want to spend more time creating tings – paint, write, sculpt, design, draw – and spend time with those people I love who make my days happier. I’d want to read more and learn more and possibly travel. Travel always comes up as a thing that people want to do before it is too late, but when I really thought about it I realized that it isn’t really true for me. I’d love to travel to meet friends, but traveling to see sights and experience other cultures isn’t high on my list. The wonders of literature and modern technology give me the key points and knowledge that previously required extensive travel, the internet lets you see the wonders (albeit a poor version of experiencing them first hand), and in the end: no matter where you go there you are. It’d be nice, yes – but loved ones, art and study take precedence.
But what would you do – how would you live if you were nearing the end of your life? Would you stay at your current job, working the same hours; would you stay with your current partner; would you do the same things in your spare time? What would you want to do more of and what would you want to experience before it is too late? What dreams and longing would you want to fulfill?
Think about it for awhile. What is it that matters most to you and how would that affect the way you live if you knew you were going to lose those things? Have you got an idea?
Now, I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you: you are going to die.
Slowly or quickly, silently or in pain, with a bang or with a whimper – the details are irrelevant. Every breath leaves you one less to your last. It is an inevitable, irrefutable fact. We are all going to die, so why do we put off that which we really want to do other things? Why compromise with the precious years we have left just because we do not know how numerous they are?
Start living like you were dying because – really – you are.
“The trouble is, you think you have time.”
Today is a day of sadness.
Mindy McCready took her own life this morning – shot herself on the porch of her home, in the same spot where her boyfriend committed suicide just over a month ago. She was 37 years old.
Mindy was born at approximately the same time as me, on the other side of the world, on November 3oth 1975.
I didn’t know that when I first started listening to her music, at the very beginning of her career when we were both only 20. It was a dark time in my life, and her music helped bring me out of it. Since then I have followed the ups and downs of her life, and over the years I came to feel a special connection to her, though I really only got to know her a little bit, personally. I never explained to her what she’d meant to me – out of fear and embarrassment, I guess – and we never got to meet in person. I thought there’d be time for that, later.
When she passed away, years had gone by since we’d had any contact. I meant to write her following David’s suicide, but…well…you think there will always be time, later. Turns out there isn’t.
She led a tumultuous and troubled life, battling many demons – both internal and external. Hopefully that struggle is over now.
Rest in peace Mindy, you’ve earned it – I’ll miss you, and I’ll see you yesterday…