I’m not going to start at the end, nor am I starting at the beginning of Prince’s career. I’m starting at my beginning. “Way Back Home” is from Prince’s Art Official Age album, released 9/30/2014. It’s not the first Prince song I heard, so, no, not that beginning. I’m sitting here trying to find the words to explain this song, what this song means to me. It’s release date is less than 2 years ago, and I have listened to this song hundreds and hundreds of times, often on repeat, and it always has the same impact on me as though I’m hearing it for the first time over and over again. It is the one song that I can absolutely say with certainty that appeals to the little girl in me, the little girl that had lain awake each night imagining a world so filled with love that no one ever went without. That is why I say this song was my beginning because for me, this is where my search began.
When I was 10 I had a dream, I remember this dream vividly because it has stayed with me ever since and I have told friends about this dream many times over the years, long before this song was ever released. In the dream, I am running across a field at my aunt’s house. There are two planets (I call them “planets” because as a child I had no other words to describe what I had seen but they were more like balls of colorful light). These “planets” were vibrant, colorful, alive, one smaller than the other, kind of hidden behind the larger one. I had never seen such vibrant colors before, the way they moved and grooved together, as though they were alive. (Interestingly enough, the image with this song is an image of Prince, wearing his 3rd eye sunglasses, within a pattern of vibrant colors.)
Anyway, as I’m running, I fall to my knees crying out, begging, “Please! Please, I want to come home! Please bring me home! I don’t belong here!” And I hear a voice, soothing, comforting, loving, say to me, “It’s not time, my child. There is still so much for you to learn, to experience. It’s not time. I love you.” And I’m crying, with those swirling colors above, just out of reach, because I want nothing more than to go home. That longing was so intense, the pain of not being there when that was where I knew I wanted to be…it was overwhelming. The dream itself, however, reminded me that I’m never alone and that eventually I will go home, when it’s time, and that brought me some comfort. This song (and the imagery) had me doubled over and crying when I first heard it. (I told you I was a strange child and that hasn’t improved since I’ve ripened into adulthood – and that’s okay! Strange is good.)
This song starts with a very steady beat, the impression of a heart beat vibrating and a statement, “Any person or object whatsoever that requires your attention is something that has veered from its path and preordained destiny of total enlightenment.” What isn’t said, is that if you give it the attention it requires, YOU have veered from your path and preordained destiny of total enlightenment. There is a saying by Paramahansa Yogananda: “Everything else can wait, but your search for God cannot.” We often put off that search for the more mundane earthly pleasures, which does veer us from the path of finding God, thinking this will somehow “complete” us, bring us happiness. And a few do find happiness, but many do not, and as such don’t know why it doesn’t because we’re told it’s what we are supposed to do and that in doing it we’ll have a rich and full life. But it’s mainly because they’ve veered from the true path.
Prince starts out by singing “I never wanted a typical life, a scripted role, a trophy wife. All I ever wanted was to be left alone, see my best mate up at night cuz in my dreams I roam. Just trying to find my way back home.” During this verse, the music begins to build. Keys, drums, vocal harmonies. This layering of the instruments and voices as he is singing increases that sense of longing within me, and by the time he sings that he is “just trying to find my way back home,” I am completely filled with that longing myself. And I remember that little girl that I was, that desire so strong in her, that all she wanted was to go home and suddenly, I am that child again, filled with that need.
He goes on to sing, “So many reasons why I don’t belong here” and by this time, I am just crying, every single time. This is no world for a sensitive soul. This is no world for someone who feels every hurt inflicted on another as though it were inflicted on themselves. This is no world for a childlike faith and a belief so deep in the power of Love, a world where everyone will ridicule that faith and that belief in love because they themselves don’t feel it. This world is not ready for that. Not yet. But those that are, often feel such a deep sense of being alone, as though they are somehow out of place, out of time. I am a loner, perhaps because I have always felt alone even when around other people. Please don’t get it wrong, I’m not lonely, far from it, but I never felt there was another soul that understood me, or felt in the way I did. I knew there were a lot of people that felt they didn’t “belong” or felt like they were outsiders, but this isn’t that feeling. There is a sense of a … higher purpose … as though you are here for a reason, something greater than yourself, but looking around this world, you realize this world, the people, are not ready for that higher purpose and the work required to bring them to the higher purpose is daunting. And so you have a choice…
He goes on to sing what his choice was, “but now that I am I (without fear, I am) going to conquer with no fear, until I find my way back home, until I find my way back home.” I needed to hear that. You see, as a child in an abusive home, you learn fear. It becomes a conditioned response. You learn to move quietly, speak softly, draw no attention to yourself. As I always called it, you blend in with the wood work, disappear. That was something I did very well. And that is the choice you have to make. If you feel you do not belong here, your choice is to allow fear to hold you back from completing your purpose, or to move forward with that purpose without fear. And this is something that Prince has done throughout his career. He never blended in with the wood work. In fact, he went in the opposite direction. He made sure he stood out. How do you get the world’s attention? How do you stand out in a crowd of people and make people pay attention to you so that you can spread a message the world needs to hear? You go on stage in a pair of bikini briefs, emphasizing sexuality (because sex sells), and you sing about God. It doesn’t get much more fearless than that. And the dichotomy between the visual image portrayed and the message given, I mean, incredibly fearless. This drew people to Prince, because he was highlighting what people were chasing, what they were focused on, and doing it so well in his dress and movements, but then he would point them where they truly needed to put their focus. There is a saying by Confuscius, “When the wise man points at the Moon, the imbecile examines the finger .” There were a lot of people examining Prince, just saying…
He goes on to sing, “Most people in this world are born dead, but I was born alive. (I was born with this dream) With the dream outside my head, that I could find my way back home”. Very few people are born knowing who they are, their higher self. I’m trying to be delicate with this, because this is difficult to explain and something that people don’t understand. In Buddhism, Buddha taught that the “self” was illusory, an illusion. That we identify with our physical bodies and the world around us, as though the two were separate. They see the world “outside their head” as being real and interact with it as though it is something different from them, separate from them. Someone that knows the illusion, as it were, is able to view the outside world as a dream and, as such, know how to find their “way back home”. Here is a link for a little further explanation, as I don’t want to get bogged down on this: http://spldbch.blogspot.com/2012/05/no-self-in-buddhism.html Prince, born alive, knowing the world outside his head was a dream was able to then interact with that world fearlessly. That’s why he could get on stage in bikini briefs and perform, because he saw the dream, the illusion. There is also a deeper meaning to this stanza that I will leave to Prince to explain, if he ever wishes to. But this stanza absolutely stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it. My heart swelled and I thought, “This is it!” The Self Awareness of being able to proclaim this is astounding in its breadth and while I had already been in awe of this song, this moment right here, my heart swelled and once again, Prince had hooked me.
Then, THEN, he sings, “(Power to the ones) Power to the ones that could raise a child like me. The path is set but if you look, the truth will set us free. I’ve heard about those happy endings, but still a mystery…Let me tell you about me, I am happiest when I can see, my way back home. Can you see? My way back home.” I understood this. This hit me deeply. I had never thought about what it would have taken to raise someone like me. I am unlike anyone else in my family. I don’t think I can proclaim that I was born fully alive, but I definitely wasn’t born dead. And I can say, that my family were never quite certain what to do with me. But to have someone, born completely alive, completely Self Aware… it left me breathless, speechless, and in complete and utter humility and awe. But for myself I realized, I had to let go of the hurt of my childhood. I finally looked back upon my childhood and gave praise to those that raised me. Even the child within me, heard this verse and was awe-struck. From the ashes of my pain was born my desire to be free.
Now, I can’t always include the song in my posts. I won’t disrespect Prince or his music in that way. However, this song is available on youtube through Warner Bros. and I hope in this one instance, Prince will forgive me. This song needs to be heard…