I thought that, a year and a day on from the news of his death, I would share this wonderful Radio 4 Front Row interview with the incandescent David Bowie.
It is a quick, five minute interview during which Bowie shares with us his thoughts on his own mortality - a curious juxtaposition of his joy of aging ("most of my heroes were older guys") with the fear of his actual death.
On the surface the interview seems to be an exchange on life and death. It is, as you would expect from Bowie, about so much more. Mostly - for me - it is about his skill as a writer and artist and the freedom getting older brings to his craft.
Bowie shares that as he gets older he finds he writes for himself. Yes, the audience is there, in the background, but as "life is a finite thing" he knows that by producing work that pleases him (sometimes against his better judgement ) he will please others.
Bowie's ability to embrace his years, no more than that, to use his age to inform, improve, shape his music, is counter-balanced by the ticking clock of his own final point. This shortening of time is ever present, weighs heavy and it brings an interesting carpe diem quality to his working process.
With time short, do more, do it differently, do it better, do it now.
As someone who has now been in work longer than I have been out of it - perhaps not "old old" but certainly no longer in the first flush of youth - I love Bowie's take on getting older. I have always believed I could do anything, try anything, be anything - no matter what my age. That the best, my best work, is still ahead.
I certainly feel far less inhibited in trying new things, writing in new ways, welcoming new blood, being told there are more interesting paths to try. Things that used to scare me - from presenting (and side bar - I LOVE that the ultimate performer really didn't like performing very much, however "unfortunately I can do it") to meetings, networking to clients - now seem like challenges and opportunities. A chance to test hypotheses, flex creativity, win new business, champion campaigns.
But I feel that I have not yet listened to my own ticking clock, and that perhaps without a sense of time running away I am lacking a sense of urgency, the urgency needed to get great things done. I wonder, if I listen to my own tick, can I up the game?
I have always loved a deadline - I love the brain squeeze you only get by knowing time is running out. Can we build this deadline in to how we live - and can we make every moment a potential brain squeeze?
Life might be finite, but we have the chance to fill it with infinite possibility. Lets listen to the tick, respect it. Lets enjoy the fruits of age, lets continue to push boundaries and know that the best is yet to come.
David Bowie: “Life is a finite thing”