I was going to write something lofty and important about being a full-time freelance copywriter or small business person this week. Something that should have helped others to start or run their own small businesses.
But yesterday morning, a Minnesota Icon died.
Out of the blue.
Just in case you haven’t turned on the news or a radio station or been on the Internet in the last 24 hours, Prince died yesterday around 10:00 am. He was found unresponsive in an elevator at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, MN, less than half an hour from where I live.
We’re all in shock here in Minnesota. When I wrote this, there was a huge block party happening in front of First Avenue, the venue where Prince filmed Purple Rain. More are scheduled for tonight and tomorrow.
Growing up in Minnesota, in the eighties, you couldn’t help but be influenced by Prince’s music. He was the hometown hero. His music was everywhere, school dances, the radio, blasting out of boom boxes and on television. So while Prince wasn’t one of my all-time favorites, I do consider myself a fan.
Prince was a self-taught virtuoso, multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer, songwriter, you name it. He was one of the most talented musicians of our time. Whether you like his music or not, ya gotta give the guy some credit. He really was fantastic.
Everyone comments on how eccentric he was. And he was. By all accounts, he was a fabulous, shy, little powerhouse of a man. He was most comfortable on stage performing. He was very private. But he was very kind and giving.
He supported other musicians in their careers. He gave free concerts. He held parties and concerts at Paisley Park. He’d show up at other musicians’ concerts and randomly join them on stage, playing some incredible music with them. You can read all the stories elsewhere on the Internet. He was an amazing guy.
He was also a very savvy businessman. He controlled his image very carefully, insisting that videos and pictures that weren’t authorized be taken down. He removed his music from most streaming services in protest of how poorly musicians are paid for their art.
And the crazy love symbol thing? For those who don’t know, that was actually a battle with his record label, Warner Bros. He felt he wasn’t being treated fairly when they tried to slow the release of his CDs. So to get out of his contract he changed his name to what became known as Love Symbol #2.
But this post really isn’t about Prince.
It’s about time.
It’s about the fact that we have no idea when Death will come for us.
So if you have a dream, do it. Follow your dreams now. That way when your time is up, you can say you accomplished the things you wanted to. Even if you failed at them. At least you tried.
I’ve failed numerous times. And each time, I learned something from that failure. And I can say I tried.
I’ve been incredibly lucky in my life. I’ve had the resources to follow my dreams, no matter how crazy they were. My incredibly tolerant and supportive family has helped me through a lot. I owe them big time. But they all understand that dreams are important and you have to follow them.
I have a degree in creative writing and theater. I wanted to be a full-time actor when I graduated from college. (Among my acting credits is being an extra in Sign O’ the Times, so there’s my Prince tie-in. One of the many benefits of growing up in Minneapolis.)
I’ve run my own business making costumes, primarily for people performing at Renaissance Festivals, but also for local theater productions. I’ve toured the country as a professional musician, playing at those Renaissance Festivals and as part of a Celtic band.
I’ve been very lucky to be able to follow my dreams, even if I’ve failed at some of them.
But if you don’t try, you’ll never know if you’ll succeed or fail.
Which is why I’m doing what I’m doing right now. Until I try being a full-time freelance copywriter, I’ll never know if I can do it.
So I’m encouraging you follow your dreams too. You don’t have to take the crazy leap of faith like I did. You can work your way into it.
Or maybe you have a dream that doesn’t involve upending your life. Maybe you want to travel because you’ve never left your home state, province or country. Maybe you want to learn to paint, just because. Maybe you want to become a sommelier, so you can say you did it.
Go do it. Even if you fail, trying can be considered a success.
Prince did it. He lived a spectacular life. I’m sure in amongst all his successes, he had some amazing failures too. It wouldn’t be life without them.
Follow your dreams. No matter how big, or small they may be.
Because we all get the same thing, we get a life. How we use it is what defines us.
Tell me about your dreams and how you plan to make them happen in the comments below.