|Prince Rogers Nelson, 1958-2016|
We are gathered here today
to get through this thing called life"
Another one has left us.
Two days ago, I went on Instagram and saw that one of my college friends posted a photo of Prince captioned, "Rest in Power, Prince." My response? "Nooooooo!" Back in 2009, when I learned of Michael Jackson's passing, I cried. In 2012, when Whitney Houston was found dead in a bathtub, I was extremely sad and upset that drugs were such a demon for her. When David Bowie died this past January, I was reminded of my mornings spent getting ready for school and listening to the pop station in New York City, bopping around to "Modern Love." On Thursday, April 21, 2016, I scrambled to find what I hoped was not true: Prince could not have died. He couldn't have. And in those first few minutes, I couldn't find anything saying he was dead. Then, just a few minutes later, the news broke: yes, Prince Rogers Nelson was dead.
Why is this a big deal to me?, you might wonder. Well, it's hard to explain, but I will attempt to. I grew up in the era of MTV and the advent of music videos. I grew up listening to, and watching, David Bowie, Sting and Billy Idol. I carried Michael Jackson everywhere with me (he was on a button on my jacket), Whitney Houston sang the soundtrack of my childhood love life (LOL), and Prince? Oh my. I remember going to a friend's home after school, whose mom was cool (or irresponsible) enough to let us go into her room with another friend and three boys to watch Purple Rain, the movie. (If my mom knew what I was watching, she would have never let me talk to that girl again, much less go to her apartment.) I got some kind of education watching that movie. I mean, who could get 'Darling Nikki" out of their mind after that performance?
Prince's music and his videos were everywhere. He was the ultimate gender-bender, yet so masculine. I didn't comprehend his talent or even his sex appeal at the tender age of 12, but I knew he was special, different. And I knew that, when "1999," "Controversy," and "Let's Go Crazy" came on the radio, I was given permission to go crazy, get nuts, kick my shoes off and dance - letting go of all of my inhibitions. I was a perfectionist and a people-pleaser throughout my childhood, but Prince gave me permission to stop thinking about anything and anyone but my own body and my heart. He gave me permission to enjoy life.
We grow up and adulthood teaches us to prioritize, to plan, to set goals. We lose the ability to let go and go "crazy." We wake up exhausted, sit in traffic for hours or doze off on the subway, go to work, and come home to figure out dinner and go to bed, just to do the same thing over and over again. We give our life over to others - our jobs, our families - and forget who we are, and what keeps us motivated and passionate about life. Our energies are focused outward, and we lose spontaneity - dying a little inside over time. Prince? Prince, to me, was the ultimate life live-r. He worked hard, yes, but all of his work was focused on becoming the greatest musician, the greatest performer, and it was obvious to us all that his energies went towards what he was most passionate about. He was in total control of himself, yet even in that control he understood the need to go crazy.
"We're all excited
But we don't know why
Maybe it's 'cause
We're all gonna die
And when we do
What's it all for
Better live now
Before the grim reaper come knocking on your door"
I never got to see Prince in concert, just like I never got to see Michael Jackson, or Whitney Houston, or Luther Vandross in concert - huge regrets of mine. I thought I had learned to live and enjoy my life, but as I reflect on this larger than life person and the huge loss to the music industry (and all of us), I realize that I have not given myself permission to "go crazy" in a very long time. I have become so weary due to the responsibilities of adulthood and my own personal losses that I haven't given myself permission to enjoy life and act on my passions.
We live in a time of social media now, something Prince was not a fan of. What we post gives others the perception that we are enjoying life, but I wonder how many of us would honestly say that is true? I know we all have to work, and we have to "adult," but how many of us continue to focus our energies outward and away from what we're most passionate about?
I'm going to look for that purple banana now.
"Let's Go Crazy" lyrics by Prince Rogers Nelson.