Ii wasn’t a huge Bowie fan. I mean, I liked his music, but I wasn’t a rhapsodic fan like my friend Tom Finberry. But I admired his daring, his sense of style, his guts, and his not-give-a-shittery. End of story, the man was an artist. And that’s what I appreciated about David Bowie – and what separates him and other artists from inconsequential dreck like the Nickelbacks of the world. (One can never whip Nickelback enough.) Because no matter what your opinion of Bowie’s music – whether or not you loved it, were indifferent to it, or hated it was immaterial – there was no denying the man was an artist with kaleidoscopic visions who was hell-bent on expressing every one of them. There was passion and emotion and energy and humanity exploding out of every pore of the guy. It takes guts and talent and hard work to do what Bowie did. (“Oh, really?” you say. Well, would you walk around in public shirtless with an electrified orange mullet and a giant lightning bolt drawn across your face? Exactly. We are cowards all.) Now compare Bowie to the aforementioned dreck, which simply figured out a formula of sounds that will make money. (I have no idea why people go batshit for that stuff, but they do. “Here, take my money, Pre-Fabricated Corporate Rock Band Drones!”)

Bottom line: there’s nothing more cynical and deadly to art than doing it for the money. And people know. They can smell it. And David Bowie didn’t stink.

Long story short, David Bowie was an artist who left footprints bigger than his shoes. And that’s sort of what it’s all about, isn’t it? Leaving footsteps behind as echoes you were here? The gift I took from Bowie’s unexpected departure was this: we all have the opportunity to leave our footprints. The good news: you don’t have to be Bowie-sized to do it. We do it all the time in different ways without knowing it: through the children we raise and send off into the world, through our kindness and compassion to our neighbors, through our words (written, spoken, or spray painted), our photos, our paintings, our music, our humor…all these things ripple through the world as proof that we were here. And they keep rippling long after we’re gone. So celebrate the fact that by the virtue of simply being human, each of us possesses the ability to create, to be heroes, and to leave our imprint on the world. Don’t sell yourself short. You are divine. You are powerful.

(As proof that Bowie’s artistry far exceeds anything I’ll ever achieve, I submit this: he wrote this entire 462-word blog post in 12 words: I watch the ripples change their size/But never leave the stream. Take that, silly Author Man!)