So Much Pressure to Live

So Much Pressure to Live

Prince died.

As others have said, I guess I wasn’t aware someone like him could die. I mean, obviously I’m aware we all expire, but somehow he seemed above it, you know? Timeless and endless, impervious to life’s tedium so he’d just perpetually survive.

His death is yet another reminder that we need to live. If someone as talented, unique, creative, dream-catching and inspirational can just — poof — be gone from our lives, then, well, what’s my chance?

I read all the motivational quotes and perky little one-liners about living life and daring, and being courageous and reaching goals and oh my god it’s just really exhausting wondering if I’m living all my moments fully and creating the perfectly curated life for my kids, and eating well, and goal-setting and dream boarding and — stop.

Listen: the truth is, we get to make life whatever we want it to be.

If you’re unhappy, you might feel like you’re stuck, but you’re not. You deserve to be happy — and I’m not being trite here. Of course you can’t just wander through life taking whatever you think will make you happy, stomping on others and creating chaos. But we all deserve to be content, to set our own goals, to have our dreams, to love and connect, and be ourselves, within the constructs of our world. We’re good people, right? Inherently able to be moral and reasonable. It’s not that hard (and I guess if your idea of happiness is stealing, pillaging, and killing, this post isn’t for you at all), but there’s still so much pressure, you know? It doesn’t have to be that way.

If you want to sing, sing. It doesn’t mean you’ll be a rockstar, but why should that stop you?
If you want a divorce, get one. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it in a way that causes the least amount of grief to the person you’ll be leaving.
If you want to travel, do it. Money can’t stop you if you’re truly motivated. Make it happen.
Want to write a book? (And this one’s for me…) Then do it. Fear is the lamest excuse for procrastination.
If someone told you that you’d be dead next week, you’d get on prioritizing, wouldn’t you? I would.

You can’t have everything you want, but you can do your damnedest to get as close as possible.

We use every excuse not to live our lives fully — we lean back on fear, or being “good”, or acting like martyrs because it’s just far easier that way. We put people like Prince on a pedestal because look at how unabashedly he lived! We should all be like that! Balls-out go-getters unafraid to be ourselves! But we won’t be. We’ll wear mom jeans and drive mini vans and leave our dreams in the dust because kids and jobs and responsibility and fear.

There’s a happy medium, though. It doesn’t have to be so black and white — all mundane or all fearless living. Take baby steps. Dip your toes in and see what it’s like to live under your own rules. I’m willing to bet it’s a lot less oppressive.

Yesterday, I took my kids into the city (about an hour’s drive) and we listened to Purple Rain all the way down. I told them about Prince, and how he was such a unique person — a character you couldn’t write, because he was so different nobody would believe he was real. So much talent and vision, so much steadfast comfort in being HIM. Plus that album, I mean, amazing. They loved it.

Stuck in city traffic, my daughter pointed out a guy walking down the street wearing a unique outfit: An all-white, tailored suit with HUGE shoulder pads. He wore shiny, white, pointed-toe shoes with silver accents on the toes and heels. A jaunty black hat attached somehow, impossibly, to the side of his head. He stood so tall, despite being fairly diminutive, and walked with authority along the sidewalk next to the car we were in. Daughter said, “Check that guy out! That’s a crazy outfit”.

“I dig a person with the guts to wear crazy clothes, don’t you?”, I said.
“Why, Mommy?”, asked my son.
“Because in this world, it takes a whole pile of guts to be yourself, and wear what you want, and be proud of it”, I replied.
“This song is awesome, Mommy”, said my daughter.
“I know.”

Goodbye, Prince. Thank you for the soundtrack of my youth, and the chance to encourage my kids to truly live.

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