The world has lost Prince. His music now on repeat in the coffee shop where I write this post. My local newspaper with a full page, color photo of him on the front. The news brought back a dusty memory of summer camp so long ago: a boy in the back of the bus, a boom box on his lap, the North Carolina heat blasting through the window as he sang, “Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1999.” A friend of mine recently wrote, “Prince provided the soundtrack to so many phases of my youth.” Amen.
There is more to the story, though, than just the showmanship or the talent or the music-as-a-refuge-from-life narrative. There is also the work ethic, the need deep down in Prince’s soul to create. Supposedly, hundreds, if not thousands, of new songs await release. When asked if he would ever release those new songs, Prince replied that someone at some point in time would release them. Who knows when, but we will wait.
Today, I also heard another interview with a different musician, Ben Folds of the band Ben Folds Five. I somewhat remember the band, but more interesting to me was Folds’ belief in creating music. After his father was paid for construction work with an old piano, young Ben took the instrument and made it his. He confesses at the most poignant moment of the interview, “There were moments of intense frustration.”
Creation is battle. We fight the skeptic inside us and the skeptics around us. We struggle as the unknown becomes known. It is nothing short of a bloody fight in the mind.
What makes the great artists like Prince or Ben Folds is not their creative “talent”, but their relentless pursuit of creation itself. No matter what, they must create anew, and they teach us the creation is frustration and vice-versa.
Of course, not all of us are artists in this sense. But, we are neighbors and parents and employees and friends. In all these places, we can create, we can express some idea never before seen. But only, only if we don’t stop trying.
Thank you for reading.