Our Immortality Lies In The Effect We Have On Others: RIP David Bowie


I just recently wrote about fearing obscurity, but of course death is out there, too. Death is the end of all our contributions to the world. It’s the end of our opportunities to experience joy and delight, and to make an impact. It’s the end of us.

But we all get to have a kind of immortality, too. When any of us show kindness to someone else, we brighten their day. If we’re lucky, they feel happier than they did, and they get a chance to pass that kindness to someone else. In that way, a good deed can circle the world, just as long as recipients give away what they have received.

That’s our immortality, and it isn’t about us as individuals. The effects of our kindness can touch people who have never heard of us, and it can last long past the life span of those who knew our names or laughed at our jokes. It’s immortality as life force, the soul defined by the effect we have on others, and the way those effects ripple outward.

Maybe one particular good deed was prompted by a kindness someone else showed to us, which would mean that good deed sustains someone else’s immortality, mixing it with our own. Maybe the good deed is something we created ourselves, as an antidote for being mistreated. Either way, every kindness becomes part of the heaven that we ourselves create.

Because heaven isn’t a place we go at the end of things; it’s something we construct with our words and our deeds. It’s found inside generosity, joy, and connection like little pinpricks of light, and it’s something we make for other people, not for ourselves.

The way we raise our children, and the way we treat our neighbors and our friends over the long term… those things have an even larger impact on the world, for good or ill.

And then there’s the art we make.

David Bowie reached a great many people with his art. I’m not going to try to summarize his career; others will do that better than I ever could. But I don’t think it’s out of line to estimate that there are millions of people out there who feel that his music saved them in one way or another. That’s a powerful legacy–any artist would dream of having that kind of effect before their time on this world comes to an end, myself included.

He may not be with us any longer, but his impact remains. If David Bowie ever brought you joy or comfort, please try to pass that on to others. In that way, you help to make him immortal, and you become immortal with him.