Where Do You See Purple?

I’ve found myself grieving in the past few days. I’m feeling pain and loss, as I am realizing I have so limited my life, sorting out what I too quickly deem unimportant, that I didn’t appreciate Prince for the awesome talent that he was. I didn’t allow myself to be aware of his genius.

And if I ignored him, right there in front of me all of those years, who else have I missed?

There is value in my grief and pain, because in the past few days those painful feelings have caused a profound shift and expansion in my awareness.

I know better than to grieve for what should have been. I know that I simply did not have the capacity for that kind of appreciation in years past. I was “too busy” pursuing “more important” things that mattered to me, like studying for law school, developing my law practice, going out with friends.

I didn’t love Purple Rain when I saw it in 1985. I have to admit I didn’t even really like it all that much. I liked the music, but I didn’t choose to pay attention to more of Prince’s music. And at the time I didn’t really relate to the story. So not relating to it, over the years, when the movie was on some movie channel, I might watch a scene or listen to a song, but then I’d move on without another thought about it. Not my thing.

When Prince changed his name to the symbol, calling himself “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince,” I scoffed and rolled my eyes, like so many others, concluding it was a silly publicity stunt. My scoffing was encouraged by the mainstream media. This, of course, was exactly what Warner Brothers (and huge business) wanted from us.

I was offended when he printed “SLAVE” on his face. Thinking it was in poor taste as another simple, superficial publicity stunt, I dismissed him further.

With the tremendous opening of video libraries in tribut to Prince’s music, I’m now learning that what is “public,” like Prince’s “pop” songs, “Little Red Corvette,” “Raspberry Beret,” etc., is not the whole of him. It makes me appreciate that what we see is only the surface of the whole of someone.

In the past few days, I also learned that Prince changed his name to a symbol in 1993 in order to protest his contract with Warner Brothers, which was demanding that he release less music so that they could control demand. This resulted in a drop in record sales for him.

In the past few days, I’ve watched Purple Rain several times. I realize now that the story was so close to my own painful reality, that at a very deep, unconscious level, I couldn’t allow myself to relate to it then. I now have such a profoundly deepening appreciation for the complexities of Prince’s artistry and the courage he had that formed the basis of his integrity as an artist. I’m seeing purple in all sorts of places I never saw it before.

I now wish I had dug deeper at the time so that I understood and could have spent more time appreciating that the stand Prince was taking required incredible courage, conviction and integrity. To shock. To offend. To demand publicity. I now understand that those are expressions that deserve an investigation into the meaning behind those actions. To challenge the power that provides you with your economic well-being: who among us mere mortals has the balls to do that?

It’s so easy to say, “I wasn’t a fan.” And then turn the channel or scroll past the video post from your Facebook Friend who was a Prince fan. But maybe it’s worth taking a moment or 5 minutes to stop and listen. Listen to what those who loved him have to say about him. Listen to those that love anyone has to say about him or her. Be open.

Now I am realizing how important it is for me to appreciate and to be open to the complexities and artistry of each and every person I encounter. Listen to what their fans say about them. Listen to what the ones who love them say about them. It makes your own life richer to see and be aware of the genius among us, because these artists and icons have a personal message for each of us.

And for each one of us who takes a moment to be open to more fully appreciating someone, that makes Prince’s legacy even more powerful and deepens each of us into our own wholeness.

Prince deserves our respect. He deserves our appreciation. Beautiful, Loved & Blessed. I’m now seeing Purple everywhere.

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