When I first heard the news, I absolutely refused to believe it. I’d heard about him being sick and even cancelling a concert, but it seemed surreal that yet again legend had transitioned from this realm.
As people around the earth mourn the loss of a music and my social media threads are flooded with purple (my favorite color) and pictures of him in all his fabulousness, I saw his symbol.
Being a nerd, I investigated it. Apparently, in frustration with his record company, he decided to change his name in order to release the music that he wanted without their restrictions. While they were ultimately right, and his record sales did drop, he made a greater point.
We are given names at birth, but we are also assigned names and labels along the way. Whether from family, friends, enemies, religion, the media, those labels can be helpful, but they can also be very restrictive. He decided to shed that label, even though it was his given name, to be able to express his freedom as he decided.
The beauty of the symbol is that it’s a combination of things that aren’t traditionally seen together. Masculine and feminine are often portrayed as stark opposites, but he blended them beautifully. He was not afraid to go against any boundaries to be and create what he felt best expressed himself.
While his life has come to an end, his legacy and his music will live on. And the beautiful thing is, he didn’t have to change who he was or what he was about to be famous or impact the world. He could have taken the safe way or listened to the critics, but he didn’t. Living by his own words – “a strong spirit transcends rules” – he has given us inspiration on a personal level and genius on a musical level.
What labels have been affixed to you that you need to shed? If you had to create a name or a symbol for yourself, what would it be? How would you define yourself if you could?
Guess what? You can. You may not create a symbol or legally change your name, but you can make the decision of who you are and what you stand for.
Thank you, Prince, for your life. May we be as authentic as you were, and may we find the courage it takes to live out loud.
“Yeah, everybody’s got a bomb, we could all die any day. But before I’ll let that happen, I’ll dance my life away.” -Prince