I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted to one time see you laughing
I only wanted to see you… laughing in the purple rain
Purple Rain; Prince & The Revolution
Life’s lessons, inspired from and illuminated by such brilliant souls as Prince, leave their own tell-tale gleam. Part shooting star, part comet trail, there is also an accompanying shadow cast. From the darkness there, you sometimes find true light.
At 57, the creative genius of Prince Rogers Nelson was far from extinguished. He continued to call Minnesota and the land of lakes and pines his home. He told Oprah, when asked why he stayed here, that “the cold weather kept the bad people out.”
His unsuspected passing leaves a deep ache and pall, accompanied by a wide range of questions and ironies. Beyond the potentially tawdry and salacious, laying in the light-wells beyond the blinding afterglow, there awaits a more subdued and spiritual question to ponder:
What is in your vault? Where do you find your treasure chest?
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21
Do you feel the need to capture, hoard and hold the light you find and protect it from being taken? Or do you understand that the light of love and divine wisdom cannot be contained any more than it can be taken. It cannot be concealed or hidden. It simply is. And is everywhere. Imagine ‘stealing’ an ocean…? Or a mountain? Or a sky full of clouds?
Prince reportedly had a substantial vault built into his Paisley Park complex. Providing maximum security to protect his un-released work and artistry; presumably compositions, scripts and other creative materials, few were allowed to know about it and fewer yet inside. The ‘light’ that went in stayed in. It was his light, as the creator. And he also saw it as inspired by God.
The symbol of this inner-vault is man’s soul; the seat of his light. The heart of the matter; a source of power which can be used to illumine and grow all it shines upon. If it be trapped and sealed to reflect only within, it will burn the heart, destroying it through fear and anger and resentment. The manifestation can arrive through many forms.
Prince was said to be extremely sensitive; some use the word “paranoid”, regarding the control over his brand, ownership of his art and creativity. This can be fully appreciated by any of those in the business of making a living from their artistic work and talents. Prince had related battles with Warner Bros. in his earlier career, over the use of his own name and the pace of releasing new material. Recall that for a number of years, he was simply known as “the artist formerly known as”. It was an issue of liberty. To divorce from a part of one’s past and become a symbol, much less something ‘former’ is challenging to the psyche, to say the least. Performing with “SLAVE” on your face was more than an exclamation mark.
Ralph Waldo Emerson knew well the principles surrounding non-conformance,that made Prince a living icon to millions. From his essay The Poet:
“For all symbols are fluxional… when an emotion communicates to the intellect, the power to sap and up-heave nature; how great the perspective. There is good reason we should prize the liberation. On the brink of the waters of life and truth, we are miserably dying. When you are the nearest – you are the farthest. Every thought… a prison… a heaven. Every verse or sentence possessing this virtue will take care of its own immortality.”
Ironically, the vault may prove to be a well-spring of hundreds of songs for years to come. Fans will likely purchase more of Prince after his passing, with his post-death productions carrying on to future generations.
It took a life. A life that Prince lived and a life that is now ended. Like the creation of divine light; it never just starts or ends. It continues onward.
Interestingly, the essential spirit and spirituality of Prince was exemplified through a mastery of light. Clearly, this was an innate ability of his, leading him to gravitate to a color like purple and developing a potent persona around it. Purple is a powerful color. Fusing reds and blues, it conveys royalty, magic, mystery and piety. Combined with pink, it is associated with eroticism, femininity and seduction.
Prince converted colors into sounds and lyrics. And back again. He grasped it all as the pure energy it was. His genius oozed as his guitar riffs wailed and vocalizations floated and pierced. He was highly disciplined which allowed him to achieve a high degree of clarity and self-containment of his craft. As a perfectionist; paranoia hung close by. Trust was real if and when it was personal.
He explained the Purple Rain metaphor by stating the two colors that made up the color as symbolic to blood (red) and sky (blue). Purple rain, falling from the sky, would indicate the end-days; a time to embrace your loved one(s) and trust upon your faith/god for guidance.
Again from Emerson, who knew well, the ‘Princes’ of his time; those bards, artists and writers also from the past and those yet to come:
“To his passage out into free space, to escape the custody of that body in which he is pent up, in which he is enclosed. The sublime vision comes to the pure and simple soul in a clean and chaste body. His cheerfulness should be the gift of the sunlight; the air should suffice for his inspiration and he should be tipsy with water. From every knoll of grass… from every pine-stump… The poets are thus, liberating gods.”
was dreamin’ when i wrote this
Forgive me if it goes astray
But when I woke up this mornin’
Could have sworn it was Judgment Day
The sky was all purple
There were people runnin’ everywhere
Tryin’ to run from the destruction
You know I didn’t even care
Prince Rogers Nelson saw himself prophetic from an early age. In regard to the childhood seizures he used to experience, he recalled saying “Mom, I’m not going to be sick anymore… because an angel told me so.”
No prophetic ‘Good bye’ notes or farewells left by Prince, however. Only his own words. And his life. Prophetic enough on their own.
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called life
Electric word life
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you
There’s something else
The after world
A world of never ending happiness
You can always see the sun, day or night…
…and if the elevator
tries to bring you down
punch a higher floor
Let’s Go Crazy; Prince, The Revolution
Reflecting in the Purple Rain surrounding Paisley Park, hung on links of perimeter fencing, the sensing of a distant cry from an UP elevator, April snow and an open vault is discernible.
Free of fear, know that your source of love and light is inexhaustible. What is real cannot be exhausted. Its beams and rays cannot be parsed.
And judge not lest ye be judged… especially of those who give all they knew how to give, leaving the world a brighter place. Learn the lessons they leave illumined. Keep listening. Keep dancing. And keep singing. Even in the Purple Rain.