Thursday, April 21, 2016

On the Passing of Prince and the Loss of Childhood Heroes

I was so sad to log on today and hear that Prince passed away. Not only was he only 57, but he wasn't really one of those celebrities that partied so damn hard you just knew it was a matter of time. Actually, although there hasn't been an official announcement as to the cause of death yet, it sounds like he spent the last few weeks ill with a very persistent case of the flu and just wound up collapsing suddenly at home. He probably should have been in the hospital if he was that sick, although who knows if that would have made a difference.

Like a lot of people, I'm astonished at how many legends we've lost recently. Seriously... legends. People like Prince and David Bowie are icons that seem to transcend their very humanity on so many levels. It seems surprising somehow when such people actually die eventually just like everyone else. It's even harder to swallow when they die for reasons like this. You want to think someone as superhuman as Prince could never be killed by something we've all experienced, like the flu, but there it is all the same.

I've always heard that one of the hardest things about entering middle age is that you start losing older family members -- people like your parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. No one warns you that it's also hard to start losing your childhood heroes -- the people you grew up in awe of. The people whose creations shaped who you eventually became and helped you get through your younger years in one piece. 

Prince was very much one of those people for me. Like Bowie, he challenged stereotypes and refused to wedge himself into anyone's box. He was so unabashedly himself. So creative, profound, and inspiring. People like him gave me hope when I was a kid that couldn't seem to fit in to save my life. They reminded me that the people I admire most in this world don't fit in anyhow. They still give me hope now that I'm a middle-aged adult that doesn't fit in. I'm a better person because Prince existed and that's a fact. I'm running out of heroes though. When they're all gone, who will I look up to and be inspired by?