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Purple Balloon

It’s been raining for several days in Minneapolis, and all I want to do is write. Seeing strangers, my friends and family, coworkers — our faces read a mix of emotions. There’s an unshakable and palpable sadness, and an understanding that today, and every day going forward, feels much different than before April 21, 2016, the day Prince died.

This isn’t another tribute blog to The Purple One; I’m no music journalist, I didn’t know him personally, and my only claim to him is as a young fan, blessed to see him perform in concert, mournful like his other Minnesota residents and the entire world that such a brilliant and delightfully enigmatic light has left us.

I grew up five minutes from his Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, Minn., and have fond memories of dancing to Prince songs in my living room as a child. His music, his presence united people: We knew his star was bright, but to see our city honor and celebrate him, from Minneapolis City Hall to block parties in Minneapolis and Brooklyn to the world lighting up buildings and monuments in purple, is not only touching, but a reminder of how we are all One. We are all connected as human beings, and we are all connected through our love of Prince.

As the days have passed, I still find myself yearning for more stories, news, music, videos of and from him.

This piece by local music journalist Jim Walsh was lovely:

“That was Prince, throughout his career, and that’s what we mourn today — the loss of an eternal seeker, which all great artists are at heart.”

The Replacements’ Paul Westerberg spoke about how Prince filled a room with balloons when he learned of the passing of one of Westerberg’s friends. CNN correspondent Van Jones shares in an impassioned and heartbreaking perspective about Prince’s behind-the-scenes philanthropy, and how as a friend, he feels guilt over his passing. Among other strong pieces, the New York Times published this piece about Prince as the funky rule breaker who blurred the lines of sexuality and desire, with a note about one of my favorite Prince songs, “Raspberry Beret,” how fresh and new it felt with its “melting strings, finger cymbals, and a melody that sails upward like a let-go balloon.” And so much more.

Pulling together these clips and articles, listening to his albums, paying respects at Paisley Park and First Avenue nightclub, it’s all healing. It’s a puzzling time, and the emotions heavy and curious. When we lose someone of such status, why does it upset us so? The loss of life, the possibility of any more music, any other electric performances, the missing of what else could have been haunts us.

For as spiritually attuned as he was, and perhaps it was because of that, he seemed to celebrate life and love and beauty like no other. To give so much of yourself onstage and in the creative process is admirable — but for most people, terrifying.

This past year, I’ve wanted to write, and yet I haven’t. I can claim that I don’t have time, that between my usual duties as managing editor and life as a new mom, I don’t have the energy. It’s only partly true — our time is valuable, and as we’ve been reminded, so fleeting, with no guarantees — but I’m sure I could make the time if I didn’t feel this trepidation. The perfectionist’s fear of “never good enough,” the creative mind fearing critique, and the willingness to be expansive and bold remained these barriers to moving forward in my writing.

In reflection, when I think about Prince’s creative spirit, I am inspired by one so daring, so free in his voice and talent that he defied genres. Not everyone had to love his music, and yet he stayed true to his chosen path, he kept his integrity for his art, and we are all better people on this planet for it.

This isn’t a Prince tribute blog, and yet it is. To all of us who are willing to move forward fearlessly, bravely, creatively, and in service to the greater good, let’s continue to be empowered to want more, take risks, and fly free.


Need help getting unstuck and moving past perfectionism? Read more in “The Unexpected Gifts of Imperfection.”

Have a Prince story to share? Find me on Twitter, or post in the comments section below. And let me know how you honor and share your own creative spirit.

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