As a founding member of Create Change, I’m thrilled to take part in offering a fresh spin on the world of entertainment to help redefine what it means to be a modern day icon. This may not be a term you’re all too familiar with, but my hope is if you hear me out and are willing to see beyond the surface, you might come to better appreciate who these game-changers truly are.
See, when it comes to our fave celebrities, athletes, musicians, and the like, we’ve been duped to believe there’s no need to look further than the latest breaking news or hottest new trends as depicted by your gossip go-to’s. These are the public figures we may think we know. But perhaps, like you and I, these are real people that harness a real desire to not only see a positive difference in the world but, more importantly, be the difference.
Initially, I had this whole other piece written, littered with the hippest expressions, lingo, and content in an effort to keep relatable and current. Honestly, I kept struggling to truly express what my heart was trying to say and found myself editing and re-editing; tapping that backspace key more often than the spacebar.
And then one week ago, to the day, just like the rest of the world, I woke to hear that David Bowie had tragically passed away from his heroic and long time struggle with cancer. This man revered as a musical legend was an age defying, melodical genius, and a majestic beacon of a generation. And he’s left us. I nearly fell to my knees, utterly heartbroken.
THERE WAS SOMETHING SO TRANSCENDENT IN THE WAY HE SPOKE, THE WAY HE MOVED, IN WHAT HE REPRESENTED. HE EMBODIED THE WONDROUS MAGIC OF POSSIBILITY.
Looking back, it made me question how is it that a total stranger can lose their life and the effect of which can have the ability to level my world. Like total devastation. Though perhaps David wasn’t entirely a stranger. To most of us, technically, yes he was. But I know what he represented to me… I grew up with him. He provided an escape from some of the hardest times in my life. He was the catalyst of the deepening to my own imagination. And it wasn’t just his music; sheer brilliance in and of itself. The Labrynth was one of the most iconic representations of my childhood. Truly.
I remember owning the VHS and devouring that adventure until the tape literally broke apart. I spent (no joke) years trying to find a replacement. Years. And I felt robbed of an outlet that I cherished. Thievery of the symbolism of my youth. There was something so magical about his performance. There was something so transcendent in the way he spoke, the way he moved, in what he represented. He embodied the wondrous magic of possibility.
Suddenly, I found myself feeling guilty that I didn’t know more about him. I simply didn’t know enough about the man behind those enigmatic eyes. So I dug a little deeper and came to understand that his artistry wasn’t only something to be revered but ultimately became a catalyst of what his life would later symbolize. He was an ambassador of peace; a man with a mission to use his gifting in such a way that would help bring much-needed awareness to causes greater than himself. For instance, he was a major proponent of researching the horrifying effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, often launching himself and his true gift of performing on global tours to raise critical funding to developing a cure. He and his wife of two decades, the magnificent Iman, spent countless hours devoted to garnering a deeper revelation of the suffering that has stricken millions.
It still deeply resonates with me how I, how we the audience, we the people, can know so little about the iconic faces that we allow to take residence in our hearts. So I’ve decided to embark on a journey of discovery. Not only to deepen my own knowledge of the significance and power of influence, but to help lift the veil from our own eyes so we can ask the bigger questions of those whom we find “iconic”.
10 questions in 10 minutes to reveal the altruistic motivation behind the globally recognized personas we’ve come to respect and admire. Now is the time to see a broader horizon. A new depiction, if you will, of generosity and compassion that lies within all of us. Let’s blaze a trail and set into motion a grand gesture to inspire generations to come. For the betterment of our own humanity, let’s believe again in the levity of imagination and the profundity of purpose.
Are you interested in walking this out with me? If so, send in your suggestions of who you’d like to better appreciate in the comment section below and let’s embark on this adventure together.
In the words of Sir David Bowie himself:
“I SUPPOSE FOR ME AS AN ARTIST IT WASN’T ALWAYS JUST ABOUT EXPRESSING MY WORK; I REALLY WANTED, MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, TO CONTRIBUTE IN SOME WAY TO THE CULTURE I WAS LIVING IN.”—GQ, 2002
BAM… The quintessential modern-day icon. Universally loved and forever missed.