I lived in Minneapolis for three years and always dreamed I would see a flash of purple velvet crossing in front me as I walked down the street one day. I’d see a lithe, teenage girl in a Vikings jacket and do a double take, hoping it was the prince himself. I never got that gift from the universe, but I wasn’t the only one in the city with the wish. People in Minnesota feel a connection to Prince and claim him as their own. Really, people across the world claim him—feeling something powerful in his freedom and boldness. With so many fans hoping to catch a glimpse, Prince had a lot of street corners to briskly cross. I was still on the waitlist when I left that winter wonderland.
There’s a reason why people longed to be graced by even just the passing presence of the artist—and its the same reason why people were heartbroken yesterday. I don’t think it’s merely that Prince was a beyond amazing artist and musician. I think its because he was so much of himself, in a way we all really want to be.
We spend a lot of time trying to fit into the boxes we’re handed. We buy the clothes that make us look like people in magazines and we change the tone of our voice to sound like someone we’re told is valuable. We work hard to stand out only in ways that bring praise. I’ve always struggled with that box and my struggle against it has brought me equal parts joy and torment. It takes a lot of energy to be walking in and out of it all the time.
Prince spent all his energy becoming more of himself.
And that self seemed to be inclusive and kind and radical and gifted. I’m sure that sometimes he stayed in bed all day and I’ve heard he got a little preachy in his later years, but if we can’t idealize a living work of art, then how can we dream? Yesterday, I was reminded that if we spend less energy trying to be people we’re not, then we’ll have more available to become the amazing, thoughtful, brave people we really are. And maybe we’ll rock glittery jumpsuits during the day—if that’s what speaks to our souls.