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Mocha Musings: Rock on while you're still rolling

As I write this, Prince has now joined the ranks of the incredible musical talents who have died this year. He was only 5’2” tall, yet he was truly larger than life. As Stevie Wonder said, "… his commitment was in the action of what he did, not with the satisfaction of letting people know that he did it. It's always great when we don't allow fear to put our dreams to sleep, and he didn't.”

At 57, Prince was still relatively young, but it got me to thinking: Why does it hit us with such a jolt when beautiful geniuses like David Bowie take their final bow and ascend to a place which we know must be reserved for those cut from a finer cloth? Performers so courageous in pushing the envelope that they leave us spellbound in wonder.

Or, for that matter, when old rock 'n' rollers die?

Maybe one reason it hits us Baby Boomers so hard is because, somehow, it is the unspoken duty of rock 'n' rollers to stay eternally young. Sure, we grant exceptions to certain actors and country western singers who fearlessly let the camera record every inch of their time- and whiskey-besieged visages, but for the rest, we want them to stay reckless, hip and cool. We want them to vicariously help us stay in touch with that essence inside that seemed easier to reach when we were younger and more carefree, and before the scars, burdens and losses of life exacted their price, sometimes even making us forget who we used to be.

Music is one of the sweetest, most expressive gifts we, as humans, have been granted. It has the power to transform, charm, ease the passing of time, and smooth the raw and jagged edges of our existence. And isn’t the very nature of rock 'n' roll in its sexiness and youthful rebelliousness against authority (remember the bumper sticker "Question Authority")?

Though our hair or beards may be a bit greyer now and the Levis might fit more snugly around the middle, when those headlines pop up telling us that Glenn Frey of the Eagles (who can forget "Hotel California" or "Lyin’ Eyes"?), or Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire (90 million albums sold), or Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane ('nough said) have passed away, we shake our heads and wonder: How did he ever get to be 73 years old? How is that possible?

Yes, youth is lovely and to be enjoyed to its fullest. Dance in the moonlight to the strains of Van Morrison, strip down and swim naked in the surf, make love and give love (as a matter of fact, do all of those things when you’re 80, too), but it is a gift to remain aware that our time on this planet is finite. An older friend of mine once told me, “I am glad that I have lived vigorously while I could.” Wise words to live by.

All the more reason, then, when we hear such news of those who have given us so much during the span of their creative lives, to step back and take a moment to reflect on the Zen wisdom of living in the present moment. Because as with all of us — including the rockers with their head bandanas, groupies, guitars, and torn, skinny jeans — the last grains of sand will sift through the hourglass and the final bell will toll.

So rock on, and give it your fullest measure now.

Award-winning author, TV presenter and world traveler Susanne Severeid is an Ashland resident who enjoys making time for the important things in life — including mocha. Read more of her columns at bit.ly/adtssmm. For more, go to www.susannesevereid.com. Email her at susannewebsite@olypen.com.