What Bowie Taught Me
What a year it's been for the Great.
As we approach 2017, I am looking back and feeling like we've lost so much in the way of art, politics, and culture. Modeling from a young age has given me unbelievable experiences, many of which I was too young (and preoccupied with being a mum) to grasp. Sometimes I lose perspective on the gravity of my experience because I am at 'work' and it's simply my life. It's an odd industry in the sense that, as a model, you are the vessel that carries the product and you can become a bit detached. If I was feeling on top of it all, nothing could stop me. If I was PMS-ey and stressed, it could easily shake me to the core. I've worked with the powerhouses of fashion and played with the local kids all in the same morning. The really amazing people have always just been the people who I work with because for me, this was simply the reality of my work. Having gained perspective and now seeing how the fashion world shaped and affected me in such formative years, I can see the wood for the trees.
I was listening to Bowie last night, and it struck me that when we were shooting for Louis Vuitton together, I felt really alive and engaged- he just brought that out in people. I think I realised last night that actually this was a turning point in my life. I am so lucky to have worked with the people that I have, and travelled the world as I have. But it has been a winding road and I have had to learn to always be in awe of the beauty and good in the world, especially after the craziness that has been 2016.
I used to find that the travel part of my work was a huge strain on me. I missed my home and my son. The travel made me not only jet-lagged but it dulled my curiosity. I became a very boring traveller. When I look back and talk to friends who took a Gap Year (an oldie but a goodie-you're welcome!), I am amazed by how different our traveling experiences were at similar ages. When I hear about backpacking through Guatemala and getting stopped by border patrol in Transylvania, it's a really foreign concept for me. I'd opt to not go out to a salsa bar with the crew because I wanted the first flight home to tuck Nikko in. I was working to support my kid. I wasn't interested in the places I went, and I preferred to sleep off the crazy jet-lag rather than explore.
Huge regret: In Beijing I took a nap instead to going to the Great Wall of China with Georgia May Jagger. Who does that? Not me... anymore.
This year, I travelled a lot for fun rather than work, and a lot of it, Boniface and I did together. I did it in all sorts of ways that were new for me. With new friends and old, with families and alone.
After David Bowie died, I looked back at the video we made together. It was a slap in the face for me. I was working in a city (Venice) that has no comparison. I was working with a man who had created music that has changed our lives and our culture. And I was suddenly in awe of my own experience. Watching the video, I felt like I was watching someone else. Then I realised, no, that was me.
Between jet-lag and bizarre hours, I would so easily slip into auto-pilot. I won't do that anymore. I'm so lucky this revaluation hit me while I still have these amazing travel opportunities through my work. Now I love travelling. I'm no longer desensitised by the incredible journey that is the journey. I explore the entire trip now in big ways and in little ones. I'll do everything from walk around a new airport instead of getting lost in emails, to asking locals about the politics, social customs, and other nuances of their home.
David Bowie taught me to enjoy the commute. Whether we are on our fourth 12-hour flight in a week, or are on the daily commute from Croydon to Central, we shouldn't take for granted the fact that we can always find some beauty in our journey. It may sound a little rich, since I am talking about sitting next to a piano, but to be honest, I'd always opt for the Tube over a private car. What enhances life is finding the interest in the mundane. What became mundane for me would be a dream trip for most, but in reality it was my commute. For many, the mundane might be the daily school pickup, but for me, knowing I could pick Nikko up every day would be the dream.
It's all about perspective and enjoying the experience. Now I find as much joy in going from East to West London as I do going from London to Tokyo. It's about noticing and enjoying the little things, mindfully. So I hope the next time you are stuck in rush hour, you find something to indulge in. Whether it's the woman on the platform with ironically platform heels, or the family reacquainted as you exit the airport terminal, or a beer on the train home while, “The sun machine is coming down, and we’re gonna have a party.” Just remember, we are all in the Labyrinth. Think of Bowie and enjoy the maze.