27 Jun This is 40 – Musings on Wisdom, Complexity and Dead Rock Stars
I turned 40 a few months ago. That’s me at my surprise party about to have one of the most memorable and joy-filled nights of my life. I was feeling pretty excited about starting a new decade and then Prince died. I’m not sure if you heard…
I didn’t know how strong my feelings were for Prince until he died and I found myself crying in my bathrobe while binge watching YouTube videos. I mean I LOVE music (it is one of my reasons for living) but as much as I like Prince’s music I was surprised by how upset I was. Then I got to wondering why was I so upset?
Just then, as I was contemplating this deep thought, another video caught my eye. It was Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam playing a song with The Doors. You should probably know that I spent the majority of the 90’s deeply in love with Eddie Vedder. My obsessive teenage fan love was so intense I seriously considered moving to Seattle in lieu of college so that I could live out my coffee shop/grunge groupie fantasy. Unfortunately for me (and probably for Eddie) that plan didn’t work out but the love remains. I clicked play on the video and I was disappointed to see it was from 1993. There he was in all of his 90’s glory and I felt nothing. I had no interest in watching Eddie Vedder from 1993. I wanted to see Eddie Vedder now. I clicked the next video which was “Breathe” from 2009. I think he is around 43 in that one and instantly I got it. This is compelling. Although he may have had more hair and more angst-driven swagger in the early days when I loved him so- this guy – Eddie in his 40’s has depth. He has experienced joy and loss. He has had great success and also made mistakes. He has experienced disappointments, divorce and the challenges of raising children. He has spent decades becoming even better at making music. In that moment I realized why I’m excited about aging.
As we get older what we lose in physical beauty we gain in depth, wisdom and complexity. Wisdom from life experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly. Complexity from who we have had to become to weather the experiences. Although my 40 year old self can’t compete with my 25 year old self in a bathing suit, she can kick her ass in a conversation. I’m happy with that. I look at my friends who are all amazing accomplished women. Women who have taken risks, loved deeply and in some cases lost profoundly. Each one of them is completely unique and very comfortable with who they are. I’m proud of them and grateful to know them, and I’m excited because I know they are just getting warmed up. I can’t wait to continue to learn and share with them the next several decades of life experiences.
Which brings me back to Prince. I think the reason his death has been so devastating to people is because as an artist he was more compelling at 57 then when he first blew us away with Purple Rain. He had grown in depth, wisdom and complexity. The loss we feel is the collective loss of who he would have become as an artist and a person in another 10 or 20 years. It’s sad but a good reminder of why it’s so important to keep growing and to keep taking risks personally, professionally ,spiritually and creatively.
The people I admire most are writers, musicians and artists who don’t repeat over and over what brought them success. They are always moving towards what is interesting to them. They are trying new and different ideas and sounds – even if they are not well received. This is what I want my 40’s to be about – taking risks and growing creatively, spiritually and professionally.
So here’s to chucking complacency and having the courage to learn and grow.
Let’s do this 40!