Purple Rain.

I was planning to write today, but now I have to mark today….

Today is the day that Prince died.

I was fortunate enough to see him during the 2013 Billboard Music Awards, and while my mention of him was brief, it’s something that you don’t forget.

As part of any of my awards shows, I and my colleagues are fortunate enough to have front row experiences to watching the artists rehearse. Sometimes, right in front of the stage, and sometimes, on stage with them. It’s an experience that’s hard to describe, but certainly not easily forgotten.

I watched Prince rehearse a selection of songs, and the set ended with his classic “Let’s Go Crazy”, complete with that guitar solo ending. Bear in mind I’ve been doing these shows for 7-8 years now, and I’ve been fortunate to see some legends up close and personal, from Stevie Wonder to Dolly Parton. But Prince…. That man had an energy about him. I don’t use phrases like “electrifying” in normal conversation unless I’m writing some descriptive show review… but he was.

We were probably about 10 feet away from him, and the hairs on my arms set on end when he went off on that guitar. And I knew that I was seeing something special. Being a rehearsal, we got to see it a few times, and each time was just as solid as the one preceding it. I viewed watching Prince perform as one of my “life goals” back then, and even before I heard the news this morning, it still was today. I took this news hard. It’s hard to sit writing content all day while trying to stifle back tears.

I don’t get starstruck often, nor do I really cry much when a celebrity passes. Michael Jackson, Steve Irwin, Harold Ramis, Robin Williams, Leonard Nimoy. Those, I did. Prince, I just struggled with silently all day because I wasn’t really able to absorb that moment. I’ve listened to my Purple Rain record tonight and just reminisced. In 2013, I also said he was a God. That too still holds firm on my opinion of him, and I’m so grateful to have had that moment.

Purple Rain

Purple Rain

What’s funny is that I was going to write about award shows tonight anyway. My mind’s been going back to the ACMAs, and the people I work with. It’s a special group of people to me, as it’s always the same core selection of actors, and we’ve built years of these experiences together. The first day at the ACMAs really stuck with me as someone commented that I seemed more mature these days, like I had grown into myself. I’ve thought about that, and overall, I suppose it’s true. My priorities have changed so much, especially in the last two years where I was at my worst and my best. Seeing both sides of the spectrum in so short a time really sorted out a few priorities that I needed to.

These days, I focus more of my time on kindness and generosity, and I’m more wearied of fools and those that take advantage. Or those that idolize the trivial. I’m less eager to please, because I’ve seen the effects of telling people what they want to hear, and making promises that never could be delivered on. Misguided priorities and neurosis. The fragility of life and the relationships around us. And how burning bridges can be so easy to do if someone hurts us, but it’s not always the right decision. You don’t have to forget, but you can change the interactions… or in some cases mend them.

I feel a lot more at peace with myself now. More certain of my talents, and where it is that I want to be. I’ve finally come to accept that I am that square peg that people sometimes try to force into that round hole, and try as hard as they can, neither of us are going to end up happy. The thing is, I am okay with that. I’ve accepted who I am, and at the end of the day, it’s not so bad. If people can’t understand the talents that I have or fit me into their box, that doesn’t make me “stupid”. I don’t need to “save the world” anymore, but I’ve figured out how I can help all the same. I am more interested in contributing and making an impact. After all, who are we if not a summation of our memories, our experiences, and the risks that we are willing to take?

I’ve done what I’ve needed to survive for so long, and I’m at a point to where I don’t have to be afraid anymore. Afraid of surviving, or making mistakes, or not meeting up to someone else’s expectations. I’ve thought about “what next”, and where that’s going to take me.

Funny thing is, I realize that some of those answers have been right in front of me the whole time….

Mr. Waggins.

Mr. Waggins.

But that’s a story for another time.

In Which I Have A Life.

It’s been no secret that I’ve all but disappeared off the face of the Earth these days. Working two gigs has meant less time with friends, less time at home, less adventures, less sleep… but it has worked out for getting through what are traditionally two brutal months for me. So here I am on the other side, and now that’s it’s Summer, back to brutal 100+ degree days. As I’ve said before in many an occasion: “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

But as things have so turned out, my adventures can’t stay away forever, and for that matter, neither can old commitments. My fifth year of working the Billboard Music Awards came around this month, and as always, was full of stories.

Back on stage.

Back on stage.

I’ve come a long way on this production from a time where it was speculated if I could pull this show off, to making it very much my own thing. I’m very comfortable in my position with the show, and being up on stage these days is more unnatural if I’m not, so it was a very fond return to something where I feel like I belong. And it was fun and interesting. I got to see perennial 1980′s band Simple Minds rehearse/perform “Don’t You Forget About Me”, and Kanye West’s stage? No, you couldn’t see out from it when standing on it, either. I don’t worry often about being set on fire, but when I do….

But the real highlight was Van Halen. Those guys are great performers. David Lee Roth really is a man of the stage, and he looks like he definitely belongs there. Nice guy. Jokes a lot. He looks like a man who enjoys every second of his life. Eddie Van Halen didn’t speak all that much on stage, but he did toss me this during rehearsals:

The Legendary Pick of Rock.

The Legendary Pick of Rock.

Rehearsals came and went, I took part in some great performances, and after lunch the last day, I ran into this guy again:

David Lee Roth and Company.

David Lee Roth and Company.

Again, nice guy. I got to banter with him a little over two days, and again he’s actually pretty inspirational. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone enjoy more what it is that they do in life. It carry over in his body language and attitude, and it gave me something to think about.

Oh, and I sort of crashed E!’s live broadcast the night of the show.

Strangely, this isn't the first time I've done this.

Strangely, this isn’t the first time I’ve done this.

Reality only returned for a brief moment before I was called back to Forgotten City, Vegas’ regional Burning Man event that happens every Memorial Day weekend. This came along at a perfect time for me for two reasons: This is the first time that I’ve had a true “all mine” day off to myself in nearly three months. There’s also the matter that I had really fallen out of the loop with a good number of my friends, and hadn’t seen anyone in months. My hospital visit, the holidays, and my ever-constant work schedule had me fall of the grid for months. This was a chance to catch up, run a little free, and most importantly, reunite with friends.

Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba! The Lion Car.

Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba! The Lion Car.

My fourth event. And while it may be strange to some to spend a weekend at the inside of a dirt basin, it’s also check full of great people. I spent more time not getting to any one destination because I would run into someone that I needed to catch up with. And you know, that was fine. I did everything from visit the bars out there, to relax at the “Electric Lazy” lounge, to cloud watching, or just simply laughing and catching up on old times. And all of it was exactly what I needed. I did, however, have to work Saturday night, however, so I may or may not have missed Daft Punk, which has been the ultimate in “Schrödinger’s Cat” equations. Ask anyone, and you’ll get a completely different answer. Still, even if it was merely a cover band, I do regret not seeing the experience, and writing to tell that particular tales (And if it really was indeed them, consider me PISSED, as I love me some Daft Punk).

The Cathedral of Souls.

The Cathedral of Souls.

Sunday night, the Cathedral of Souls burned, and it was a fantastic spectacle, complete with fireworks. However, once the final firework popped, the sky opened up and poured down rain. Seeing a mass of neon clad spectators scramble to find cover is as equally an impressive show in itself, and I spent a few hours hiding in a tent with friends until the storm passed.

I was a little sleepy after the weekend, but I felt revitalized for the experience all the same. It’s crazy, it’s insane, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything less.

The Man sees all....

The Man sees all….

Which in turn brought me to a conversation the following day. During one of my constant appointments, errands, and performances, someone said that “You have to love what you do in order to be successful”. And the words have been pressing on the back of my mind for the following days since. By that philosophy, I am simultaneously “successful” and “unsuccessful”. My life and all the adventures that I find myself in aren’t to impress anyone, nor are they done for anyone else but me. I do these things because I love them. And when I don’t “love” something, it affects my spirit in ways that don’t lead me to realize my full potential.

This is a milestone year for me with a lot of promisingly good change coming. It’s for that reason, now that I am entering a new phase in my life, that I have to stop doing things that don’t allow me to reach my full potential. I think I’ve reached the point in my life where I am ready to put to rest the things “that I have to”, and start focusing on the things “that I want to”. Because life really is too short. And it’s not worth stressing about the things that don’t have meaning to me. I’d rather focus on friends and family, and what makes me happy. Whether performing on a stage, or surrounded by a group of old friends out in the middle of the desert, “success” isn’t about having all the money or knowing all the answers. It’s about what you love. I’m finally back at the phase in my life where “because I have to” is going to be regulated to the backseat where it needs to be, and now it’s time to restructure a few things for both me and my life.

Speaking of which, wedding preparations are finally starting to commence after being put on “hold” for a few months. Tomorrow, Jen and I, along with our friend Brenda, will be hitting the road for a very different adventure for myself. It’s time to finally be a little more “respectable” these days, but you’re fooling yourself if you think that I’m not going to have a little fun along the way….