Today has seen the death of yet another Superstar music Icon. Prince was only 57 and as the news broke this afternoon I felt myself transported back to my teenage years of the 80’s, dancing to When Doves Cry, Raspberry Beret and, of course, Purple Rain in our own iconic beachside Discotheque ‘Gossips.’ However, he is not the only one to have passed away recently, yesterday we also lost Victoria Wood, a comedienne in an absolute league of her own and one who never failed to have you rolling in the aisles with her quirky music and unique, comedic take on the average human with their own quirks and foibles. More icons from my 80’s life that have also passed are Glenn Frey, Natalie Cole, Paul Daniels, Percy Sledge, Maurice White, Sir Terry Wogan and of course, David Bowie. In fact, I have just read a list of 35 celebrities of the stage and screen who have lost their lives in the first few months of this year.
I am struck with wondering just why does the news of their passing hit us so hard? After all, it is not as if we ever met them. It is not as if we ever will. They are never likely to sit at our dining tables, regaling us all with their tales of life on the road. They are never going to relieve you of your parental taxi duties so that you can relax in a nice warm bath with a chilled glass of Prosecco – yeah, i’ve no idea what that is like either – and they are never going to be there when you are down and need a hug. Or are they?
Don’t we always revert to somewhere we find comfort when we are feeling sad? When we need a hug and need to feel safe and secure? Don’t we look for the music of our youth, when life wasn’t complicated and when we were happy and free to do what we pleased? Isn’t it just those unreachable icons who sustained our youthful dreams and were always there for us when we needed them? They never told us off, they never screamed or shouted, slammed doors as they walked away. They were our saviours. And they were immortal. They didn’t die.
Also, they didn’t grow old. When did David Bowie get to be 69? There’s no way he’s 69 we all cried as his news broke. In our minds, he is still Ziggy Stardust, singing about floating around the sky in a tin can. And Paul Daniels? He was 77! We are all still angry at him shacking up with that starlet, hussy assistant of his, despite them being together with her never leaving his side and defying all of us doubters for the last 28 years. 28 years? No way! The thing we all find when we hear of any of our favourite, or not so favourite but equally as known, celebrities passing over is that it brings us up sharp to the realisation that if they can suddenly grow old and die, then so can we. Suddenly, we think back to those happy, carefree nights dancing to our heroes at the disco on the beach, the cold, rainy evenings watching sketch shows on tv and we realise that they were quite a long time ago. Our stars have moved on and if it can happen to them, it will also happen to us.
With that in mind we need to learn to let go more and enjoy the hand we are dealt. Nothing is given to us, all of it is worked for. Those celebrities didn’t just wake up one morning and miraculously find themselves as front page news with salaries to match. They saw an opportunity, worked to perfect their skills and fought their way to the top of their chosen profession. Ok, so Prince and David Bowie were born with those phenomenal voices, but they still had to work to get themselves into the position that the public could hear them. They still had to work to control those voices, learn how to pitch them so that they could alternately make us either soar to the highest plane or crash into floods of tears. We need to use our own gifts, hone and perfect them, take the criticism and shape our talents into a form that gives us pleasure. We need to stop living on planet dreamland and realise that we are only here for a finite amount of time and in that time we should be happy, with whatever it throws at us.
As Prince has told us:
I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted one time to see you laughing
I only want to see you laughing in the purple rain.
Today I am alive. Today I am grabbing my bucket list and delving inside to see what I can tick off.
Despite the sadness pouring from my Facebook page, that makes today an awesome day.
Make sure yours is too.