Episode 021: Dijon Bowden
How to Become a Legend
I met Dijon Bowden a few months ago at a mutual friend’s going-away party. He is the type of human that you feel immediately drawn to—his clothes are loud and covered with bright patterns, his smile is warm, his eyes are kind. When I did a bit of online snooping after meeting him, it was no surprise to me that he has spent much of his time over the last six years walking the streets of San Francisco and capturing thousands of stories for his ongoing street photography project SOULS of Society. The mission of SOULS is to connect communities by telling stories that increase compassion, empathy, and spiritual awareness. And for Dijon, it doesn’t stop there. Not only is he a storyteller—but he is also a photographer, musician, and filmmaker.
Dijon got the idea for SOULS of Society when he was finishing school in San Francisco and watching his friend Brandon Stanton create Humans of New York, a photo blog and book that features photos and interviews of people Stanton meets on the streets of New York City. Inspired by the idea, Dijon decided to develop his own version of the project: rather than it being a photo and short excerpt from a person stopped on the street, it became an exchange between the interviewer and the interviewee. Both parties are deeply engaged in sharing. Not only has the project allowed Dijon an opportunity to create wonderful connections, it has also been a powerful tool in helping him to further refine his relationship to his own intuition.
During our conversation, we dig deep into what it means to have a soul, the various soul levels, time, space, and the multiple dimensions of a human being that exist inside of the human body. We cover spiritually trippy topics, but Dijon has a way of being grounded and of this planet while we are talking. He shares his take on creating your own reality:
“Once you become a powerful creator, you can start to create your reality as easily as you would change the scene within a dream.”
Dijon shares a story that happened a few years ago. At the time, he was dedicating himself to his music and had purchased several expensive pieces of audio equipment. With his new toys in the car, Dijon met up with a group of friends to attend a concert. As they were leaving the car to head into the show, he had a hunch that he should bring the equipment with him into the venue. Immediately after hearing the voice of his gut, Dijon remembers thinking to himself that he was a positive person who has done a lot of good things in the world—so he figured his spirit guides would protect him and his belongings. A few hours later, he returned to a car with smashed windows and missing goods.
Although this story is a small example of the many ways that we opt to not listen to our intuition, I am drawn to what Dijon shares about what unfolded after that evening. Dijon is a seeker—so he didn’t take what happened to be a coincidence but rather an opportunity for him to explore his blind spots and truly see the many parts of himself and the world around him that he hadn’t previously wanted to see.
From here our conversation turns to explore Dijon’s self-love and connection to his own inner confidence. One of the labels that he uses when referring to himself is “motherfucking legend.” I am curious to understand how he manages to own his brightness while remaining humble. He states,
“I feel like I was born with a natural sense of confidence and swagger . . . I have a fiery personality and what I’ve been learning to do is be guided by my presence and not burnt by it.”
Dijon shares a story from one of his earliest SOUL conversations. At the beginning of his project, he was on a search for enlightenment through the connections that he was making and hungry for any information or knowledge that he could receive from others to help him get there. Amidst this hunger, he spoke with an older woman who looked at him in the eyes and said, “Oh, sweetheart. One day you’ll realize that you don’t have to do anything to give your gift—you are a gift.” This comment touches me deeply and Dijon goes on to say, “We value things in our society based on their rarity. The more rare something is, the more valuable it is. And [yet] the most rare thing is each of us because we offer a unique vibration. This will never be copied in the history of the universe. We’re all very specific.” He finishes the thought:
“It’s everyone’s responsibility to share themselves in the energy and the essence that they are with everyone else. So I’m fucking awesome. And that’s not to say I’m better than anyone else because there is no hierarchy.”
Next I ask Dijon if he feels like his intuition is omnipresent or if he needs to use specific tools and resources to connect with it. He says, “I feel like intuition is [something] that you can refine like anything else. I feel like you refine it by putting your attention and energy toward it. And the way I see the connection to my higher self—which is where intuition comes from—is by communicating with [my] higher self.” It’s all about keeping the channels clear, open, and responsive versus muddied, closed, and reactive.
When we come to the end of our conversation, I ask Dijon to share with the audience his perspective on how to become a legend. He notes, “It’s all about self-love. You have to identify the things that you love about yourself and program yourself with that information.” Merriam-Webster defines legend as “an extremely famous or notorious person, especially in a particular field,” and I can’t help but think that the world would be a better, more integrated place, if we all became notorious for how much we valued and adored ourselves.
Hey there, I'm Dijon. I'm creative AF. I'm a storyteller, photographer, filmmaker, and musician.
I grew up in Atlanta on Outkast, Snoop, 2Pac, DMB, 311, Pearl Jam, Feist, and U2. The first concert I ever went to was MC Hammer and TLC. The second was Biggie, Puffy, and Mary J. Blige.
I've spent the last ten years being molded by San Francisco: the polyculturalism, the spirituality, the psychedelics, the play parties, the Gong-Fu-Cha ceremonies. And now. . .I'm a motherfucking legend!