I Don’t Like “Purple Rain.”

purple-rainNovember Rain,” “Let It Rain,” “Here Comes the Rain Again,” “I Can’t Stand the Rain”… all songs about rain that I like better than “Purple Rain.” In fact, I’ve kind of always found that song a bit too slow and languorous for my liking. I generally skip it when I listen to my endless collection of Prince songs. You also won’t find it on my “Prince’s Best” playlist.

Why am I telling you this? Because from the second I heard that Prince was dead I’ve seen a bevy of quotes from that song, memes with those song lyrics on them, photos of things turned purple in his honor, and even photos doctored to make the rain itself look purple. I’m sure it’s a fitting tribute to a man who absolutely adored the color, but you do realize he had literally over a thousand songs he wrote, right?

When I think of Prince I think of “Let’s Go Crazy,” “7,” “Kiss,” “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” “Diamonds and Pearls,” and the list is endless. It just doesn’t include “Purple Rain.” The one time I saw the movie I couldn’t even finish it. It wasn’t that the acting was bad. It was that the acting was atrocious, and not well directed either.

As dynamic as Prince was in concert, and as prolific as he was as a song writer, there were some songs that never resonated with me. Maybe it means I’m not a real Prince fan, as others tend to insinuate when you can say something negative about the music, but I prefer to think I’m a discerning listener instead. “Purple Rain” simply doesn’t make my list. And I have a pretty extensive list when it comes to Prince.

learn-to-appreciate-what-you-have-life-quotes-sayings-picturesIt’s interesting how people react when they find someone has died. When Robin Williams committed suicide a spike went up in the Robin Williams movies that were rented and bought by people everywhere. When David Bowie passed earlier this year his new album sold like alcohol on a Friday night. People like to feel a posthumous connection with those folks they consider icons.

The same is true of Prince as hordes of Purple Rain, both the DVDs and the soundtracks, are hurtling off shelves, and winging their way from Amazon to “fans” everywhere. These people suddenly love Prince so much, and appreciate him so much, since he shuffled off this mortal coil, that they have to have as much Purple Rain as they can possibly handle.

I have one question, though. Isn’t this just like not taking advantage of the genius while he was alive and then coming late to the party? I’m not saying it’s a negative thing, but I’ve just noticed a pattern. And completing the pattern means that a few weeks from now, when the next person has passed, when the purple rain is no longer falling down like tears, these DVDs and CDs will begin collecting dust on the shelves of those who just “had to” have them right now, with no delay.

I guess there are two types of fandom. There are those who suddenly remember how much they absolutely LOVE “Purple Rain,” and there are those who would always rather listen to “The Cross.” I count myself in the second group, but it’s okay to be in the first. Just realize why you like it. Don’t jump on some kind of bandwagon just because someone famous died. Okay, time to climb back down from my soapbox.


Unorthodox Courtship


Step 1: Attraction. Maybe it’s subtle at first, but something is definitely there. She returns the gaze, you approach, and start a conversation.

Step 2: The First Date. You sweat through your deodorant waiting for the clock to hit the hour. So you can pick her up and head to somewhere where you will talk further.

Step 3: The Wooing. Somehow the first date leads to more, and before you know it your toothbrush has a spot in her bathroom. Others begin to ask you when you’re going to pop the question.

Step 4: The Question. You practice getting down on one knee. You hire a photographer to capture the shot, when you hope she says yes so you won’t have to destroy the film. She does say yes and you’re the happiest man in the world.

Step 5: The Aftermath. For her it’s a calculated series of answers to all the questions you didn’t ask. Wedding venue, floral arrangements, guest lists, and a plethora of other things occupy her for a year or two. You smile and nod, just wanting to get to “I do.”

Step 6: The Wedding. But hold up. Something seems a bit off here, as if this insane scripting is dated, like these steps aren’t leading to where they used to lead. And the wedding, while it should be the most incredible ending to this story (or an amazing continuation), becomes almost an afterthought.

I blame it on divorce statistics. As the number creeps past 50%, meaning more than half of all marriages end in divorce instead of happily ever after, I honestly think people get scared. They don’t want to commit too soon, before they’re absolutely sure that the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with remains the same person, that those feelings remain the same.

So they wait. And they wait. And they wait some more. And this waiting becomes a kind of unorthodox courtship where the two involved in the relationship are playing a game of chicken. If no one blinks and they finally do collide in a fantastic crush of fireworks, then, and only then can they really think about marriage. Perhaps 10 years after the collision they might tie the knot at City Hall and go about their lives exactly as they always have, just now with a bit of paper, a couple of rings, and the almighty LAW chained to them as well.

And guess what? That’s still no guarantee their relationship will stand the test of time. Because there is no absolute guarantee, no matter how long you take before getting married, or if you never get married at all. Sometimes things just happen, and we can’t predict the future. We just can’t. Divorce is just a statistic. It’s when we get all twisted up over it that we unearth problems that aren’t even there. It’s when we hold ourselves back from fully trusting and being vulnerable to the other person that we doom our own relationships, when it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Believe me, I know it’s hard. I too have added to the divorce statistics, but that didn’t stop me from realizing what I had when I first started talking to my wife. That didn’t stop me from following the steps and getting to where we are in the orthodox way. I’m not saying it wasn’t difficult to move on, to trust again, but if you’re going to be in a lifelong relationship then you have to give yourself completely, and they have to as well. That’s how to get your happily ever after.

That’s how you prove that those statistics don’t matter, not to you.




“You look lost.”
“I do?”
“Where you headed?”
“Well, I was just about to figure that out.”

I remember in that movie Cast Away, at the end when Tom Hanks’ character should be happy because he has escaped the island, but he’s not because the woman of his dreams has made her choice, and he isn’t it. He accepts the loss with grace, but you can tell that inside his heart is breaking. And he’s at this crossroads in his life that is symbolized by him standing in the middle of an actual crossroads, having to make a monumental decision that will affect the rest of his life, or at least the rest of his day. Where should he go?

And when I saw that movie I couldn’t help but feel that he gave up too soon, that even though the woman of his dreams had moved on with another guy, he should have fought for her. I saw them standing outside of her house in the rain and my heart was breaking too, because I’ve seen that scenario before. I’ve lived that scenario before, when life was at a crossroads, and it was her decision, and she made it, and my heart broke.

I felt that my life was over, but in reality it had only just begun. She made her choice at her own crossroads, which created a choice for me. There was no chance to go backwards, but everything else was wide open. I recall thinking about how ironic it was then, that the choice I wanted to make was the only one closed off to me, that there wasn’t really possibility in the other ways to go. I was stupid because I was blinded by a love that refused to let me go.

So I went forward. I didn’t turn left because I knew that way led to regret, to torturing myself with the memory of what might have been. I didn’t go right because I knew I wasn’t the kind of guy who could drown his sorrows in a series of meaningless relationships, at least not if I wanted to heal, which I did.

So I went forward into the unknown, trying to cling to a hope that things would get better, that I would find myself again, whatever that meant. And I have, the choices I made somehow bringing me out to the end of a road I never knew even existed before. That’s the glory of life, and of the choices we make when we’re forced to make difficult choices.

And I’m no longer yelling at Tom Hanks’ character to go back and fight for his woman, because she’s not his anymore, and he’s not hers, and going back doesn’t help anyone move ahead to where they’re supposed to be.


Upon My Death


Upon my death I want the stars to fall from the sky. I want the moon to turn red, angry at the injustice of it all. I want tears to flow like wine, and grief to be so heavy, so widespread that everything stops for a heartbeat to contemplate how things can go on when I am gone. Or at the least I want just one person to tweet “@SamMcManus u wuz cool, bro #rip #gonetoosoon.”

Upon my death I want everyone to exhale, to let out the breath they’ve been holding for far too long. I want a celebration of all the positive energy I’ve put out into the world. So I guess I should start putting out positive energy into the world sometime soon. I want people to remember me for who I am, not for who I always hoped I would be. Because I’m not perfect, and I don’t want the responsibility, even if I’m already dead.

Upon my death I don’t want to hang around as a ghost. I don’t want to stand by and watch the people in my life go on without me. I don’t want to feel that heartache that comes with knowing they’re doing fine but I can never hold them again. I don’t want to scream into the nothingness that would be my existence and get no reaction. I don’t want to feel emotionally lost again.

Upon my death I want to feel content. If death steals my future from me I want to know that my past was worth the time I spent on it. I want to know that I’ve done all that I can to support my family in every way possible. I want to know that I left nothing out there that I didn’t do my best to tie up. I want to know that at least one thing is better for me having been in this world.

Upon my death I want to be reincarnated so I can live again, because I’m selfish, because I can’t fathom a true end. I can’t imagine an endless void, a blackness so complete that it drowns out everything else. But I also can’t envision a tunnel, or a bright light, or any kind of heaven or hell. I have a hard enough time trying to figure out what I think is going to happen next week.

Upon my death I want to make some kind of deal with god. Because I’m afraid to die.


Like Dido Said.

“I apologize that once again I’m not in love, but it’s not as if I mind that your heart ain’t exactly breaking. It’s just a thought, only a thought.” ~Dido

44a3d4997b1d7f43380fe3c99d338b13What is being in love? Is it the butterflies you get when you first meet “the one?” Is it the disconnect between heart and mind that raises one up while it shuts out the other? Is it the silences that stretch for an eternity without being uncomfortable? Or is it some amalgamation of all the above, with a little bit of libido thrown in?

Love is what we make of it. That’s what I think. You can convince yourself you’re in love if you strive desperately enough to make it real. You can give yourself heart and soul to another person and hope that it’s enough. You can wish for it, pray for it, BEG for it like kids beg for that perfect toy at Christmas and think you got just what you wanted. But you can’t make love blossom for anyone else. You can’t convince them of it when they’re not sold on what you’re selling.

Like Dido said, “It’s not as if I mind that your heart ain’t exactly breaking.” Too often people stay together because they convince themselves it’s love. They fight through their own reticence and force themselves into the glass slipper that hurts like hell every single time. They sacrifice because everyone knows that giving up something is the surest sign of love. They have all the outward trappings, but their hearts aren’t part of it; they’re separate and alone.

So I don’t mind that your heart isn’t exactly breaking. It doesn’t bother me that you’re not in love with me, because I’m not in love with you either. It was just some kind of infatuation born of proximity and a mutual love of Greek food. Or whatever. But it was never love, and the sooner we admit that the better off the both of us will be. We can be free to search for what we’ve been missing.

Because being in love isn’t manning up and doing the “right thing.” It isn’t the butterflies, but the caterpillars instead who are just so delighted when they wrap themselves in those cocoons that keep them safe until the transformation is finished. 53926-Crap-Im-In-LoveBecause love is that transformation. It’s in the way we shift and change for the better when we’re with that other person. It’s in the give and take that might not always be pleasant, but is always preferred, because we know what soothes our souls.

“If my life is for rent, and I don’t learn to buy, well I deserve nothing more than I get. ‘Cause nothing I have is truly mine.”

When we’re in love we have to dive in. We have to throw caution into the breeze and hope it returns to us unscathed. We have to engage others and let them engage us. We have to live with expectation and not let the world get us down. Because it will if we let it. It will chew up our bones and spit them out. It will break our hearts and then stomp all over them for good measure. But it’s worth it if in the end we aren’t saying “I don’t love you, and I never have,” if we aren’t only honest when it doesn’t even really matter anymore.

Make it yours. Don’t settle for someone who you don’t love just for the sake of being with somebody. You’ll save yourself a world of heartache in the end, and maybe them too.


Boarders, Volume 9

“Oh the leaves they fall. They go so far sometimes. Do I blame the wind or the tree that let you go, or do I wave goodbye, settling?” ~Tara McLean

Settling: adopting a more steady or secure style of life.

il_570xN.509563643_15w9I used to think of settling as this process that happened once a house had been sitting on the same patch of ground for so long. It begins to creak and protest the inertia dragging it down deeper into the foundation that was supposed to always be so strong. There is a shifting, a settling that rearranges the position of things, that reasserts the power of nature to do what it pleases as it pleases. And as we move from a lazy winter into a reticent spring this settling is not for the faint of heart; neither is it for just houses.

The land outside the living room window remains as it has been, mowed down low but not active. There are no large vehicles sitting on it, no noise from backhoes or tractors, no sounds of riotous laughter from sweaty men working hard to raise a house, to raise a home. The place itself remains as a tracing sheet, imminently capable of holding form but empty as of yet because it has been placed over nothing. I can sense its possibility, though, when I walk out there on it, when I picture it in my mind. But it’s not enough, not right now.

Yes, I want to be there now, to have a house of one’s own (to loosely paraphrase Virginia Woolf), but I know I can’t. I can only hope, wish, and dream it into being in my mind, and wait for the day when it will start to come to fruition with baited breath. And in the meantime here I am — boarding. Settling.

For me settling means more along the lines of adjusting expectations and making the best of what’s around (to quote Dave Matthews). It arrives as mere transitioning, all proud and full of excitement because it knows it won’t be around long. It’s just making way for something bigger and better right around the corner. Then the longer it goes transitioning transforms into languishing, when it finally recognizes the length of time it will be around is more than just the nearest corner will remedy.

That’s when it becomes settling, when it knows its time is relatively open-ended and it tries to make lemonade from the lemons that seem to be everywhere at once. That’s what this boarding has turned into, what it has always been if I’m being honest with myself. I go from day to day in this routine, in this ritual that is neither looking forward nor looking back, because looking back is to pine, and looking forward is to lean. So I’ve settled instead, and I try to make the best of my time here. I try not to languish.

Which is hard. Make no mistake about it. It’s dreadfully hard not to get discouraged, not to feel that this settling is dying, that this easing into a routine isn’t easing into the grave, because that’s honestly how it feels sometimes — most of the time. I know I will feel more assured, more grounded, when they begin digging up the ground next door.


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