I Remember John Lennon

Lennon

I’m listening to ‘Mind Games’ right now. I woke this morning imagining I would write about John Lennon, this being the 38th year since he was gunned down outside the Dakota in New York City. I’ve since visited the site many times over the years, and every time there is an ominous takeaway that speaks to the terror of that single night.

I look up at the building itself – the one with gargoyles streaming the rooftops, a structuredakota my mom always said was her favorite building in the city, and I look for the white shutters, the flats that represent Yoko’s property, and I think that very possibly she is in there right now. Hers is a private world, deservedly so given the circumstances.

Not minutes before I sat down to this idea, I received the above picture of John Lennon on my timeline from my dear friend John. The timing was important, because 38 years ago on this night, I walked into my job at the health care center where he and I worked, and he approached me as we were changing shifts and told me the news. See I didn’t hear it from Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football, or on any of the airwaves on my car radio. I was listening to a tape – it was probably a Lennon song.

I lived and breathed John Lennon as a young adult. I dressed like him, people told me I had his look, so I bought the glasses, grew out my hair, still have an old pair of aviator frames I’d like to repair some day in his honor of course. I truly believed I was going to meet him someday. I grew up with the Beatles and slowly my love for their music evolved into being completely taken by Lennon because of his lyrical prowess. He spoke to the world, he spoke to the family, he spoke to woman, he spoke to children, he spoke to me.

I think one of the things that fascinated me the most about Lennon at that time – I was 21 years old – was how he had turned his life around and was again producing music that was relevant to the society around him. This time it was about family. He had just produced Double Fantasy, and I sent it to my brother for Christmas, because all it spoke of was love and harmony, and that was something I thought everyone was in need of, badly. Three weeks later he was dead on the street, a statistic, a victim of a Saturday night special in the hands of a sick, psychotic, fan.

That night in the mental health ward of the hospital I worked in all I did was watch the news. I can remember walking in the door of the hospital, I have dreams about it today, because the whole night was surreal. This man, who I idolized was suddenly gone, and all of his words were now left to memory. All we could do is replay his magic and imagine. My friend John, told me the news, gave me a hug, and walked out into the night, his shift over, and mine just beginning. No one could know the impact this night might and would have on so many lives in the years to come.

Today is significant to me I suppose because for the first time in a long while, I’m thinking about not only the circumstances around his death, but also what his loss has left us with for the last three decades. The simple fact is he was killed by a gunman who had no business carrying the weapon he had, especially not on the streets of Manhattan. johnposter1His whole purpose was to destroy the life of another human being, but not just anyone, only a person at the time who was passionately speaking of the concept of love.

There are people who will remind me of John Lennon’s abusive past – there is history, and it cannot be denied; however, I’m reminded of the concept of forgiveness, and again love. I look at the life of John Lennon, and I realize a person of his capacity was capable of recreating and mending his world, and not for just his own benefit, but more importantly for the benefit of those who endeared him, who believed his message was whole, and he was consumed with trying – attempting to right the wrongs he had created in his own personal life. He spoke to such are the dynamics of the human condition, and I listened with my heart and soul. Having lived a life of misgivings myself, I needed hope like anyone else.

I remember a couple of days went by and I hadn’t cried. Christmas was nearing now, and the holidays were upon us.happy xmas I remember being lost, still clinging on to something that no longer existed, wondering if it were possible that somehow all of this were really a dream. I suppose I felt the way young adults did who were my age when JFK died, or MLK Jr., Malcolm X, RFK – countless mentors in our lives who were cut down by assassins with no regard for human life beyond their own.

I was driving out of a Shop-Ko store in my hometown when ‘Happy Xmas’ came on the radio. My eyes began to water and I knew I wasn’t going to navigate onto the highway so I pulled my car over and I listened to the song and I cried. I remember I cried hard, because all of that emotion I had been holding onto in grief and confusion suddenly poured out of me. It was snowing out, and thankfully I wasn’t visible to anyone. I was just a car in the parking lot, but I stayed there for a long time. I remember at that point twisting the dial on the radio and it wasn’t difficult to find the song again and again all day, all afternoon, all evening … we were all simply lost.

So today, I’m listening to Happy Xmas again, having visited the Dakota in New York, having walked through Central Park and paused by Strawberry Fields, having continued to write with a passion that John Lennon taught me when I was a young and misguided youth willing to make many mistakes in the future that are now the baggage of my time. But there is a message I do forever hold dear to my heart and soul

“It matters not who you love, where you love, why you love, when you love or how you love, it matters only that you love.” – John Lennon

I listen to his words, and I am grateful. I believe.

Happy Xmas everyone.

… and Love.


photography – various sources on the internet

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The Beginnings of How We Believe

A young boy looks out to sea from the shores of the Greek islan

I suppose there has to be a little peace,

the mind in a restful state,

oh and music offers a solace,

an avenue to draw the heart

along a wonderful path of sweetness.

 

I remember as a child

there was this hilltop,

can’t call it a mountain,

but the anyway was the reach,

a gravel path to the cityscape.

 

I would sit there for morning,

often afternoons,

the evenings find me again,

it was a place where I would sit

in wonder about all the things I did.

 

I reflect today on that patch of gravel,

the rocks and stumps I chose

to sit upon, or perhaps a lean to

on a tree nearby, and I wonder

if I knew now what I worried then.

 

There is a certain beauty in finding peace,

when we can believe,

we know in our hearts the right thing,

the world of humanity,

is designed around the concept of love.


Photo found on savethechildren.org

 

 

How Will Society React

Justine

Justine Ruszczyk

 

In Minneapolis, a white, blonde woman, of means was gunned down by a Somali police officer. Let me say this a different way. A woman in a dark alley was recently shot dead by a cop on patrol in south Minneapolis. Or I could say, after making a call to 911, a woman in certain distress approached a responding squad car, and the officer in the passenger side, fired his weapon across his partner through a window, and she died in the alley of a fatal wound. How do the three descriptions differ from each other? One might wonder which context of this absolute tragedy will matter in the outcome.

Here is the truth. We live in a society that places priority on means. In other words, money does play a role in how situations of tragedy are handled. However, there are many other variables in play here. This isn’t about a white police officer gunning down a person of color, without explanation or cause. This is actually about an officer of color ending the life of an attractive blonde woman. Take the blonde out of the story, this is the story of a woman being gunned down for no apparent reason. Either way it is described, there will be no pleasant outcome. We don’t know there wasn’t a reason because both officers in the patrol had their body cams turned off, another variable.

We don’t know the motivation for the gunshot because it was dark, the woman approached the vehicle, there was no dash cam, and apparently no witnesses beyond the officers and the woman. We are as a society asked to appreciate the reasoning and risk, and thereby respect the duress of our police departments when responding to any call, in any circumstance. I was gently reminded of this weeks ago, when writing about the Philando Castile verdict, how an officer is clearly always walking into danger, whether it be a routine traffic stop, or an already identified point of threat. So this commentary is not about our police force and their right or wrong doings.

This commentary is about how our society is going to handle this current crisis. How is social media going to react? What will be the chain of priority when handling this investigation? Does it take more precedent than the string of killings that have occurred on our streets in the last month, not including the twin cities but across the country? How do we decide that one case matters more than countless others? God help us, that we live in a world that the color of our skin creates a definition of what we determine to be important.

The clear fact is that a woman died at the hands of our police force. The truth is no one knows why except for the officers involved and in circumstances of such terrible outcome, in the moment of haste, worry, concern, personal threat, even their hearts were certainly adrenaline driven in the moment. On the surface we can be quite sure there was a lot of tension and panic involved. In the end though, a woman is dead, and another police force is under scrutiny, and the twin cities has become national news.

So, how do we go forward? Some people might pray to help themselves find calm and balance and heal. Some are pragmatic and will return to their lives and this will be a sad afterthought. Some will move out of the neighborhood, change the locks, buy home security systems, take self defense. Some will remain quietly nervous for the rest of their lives.

We as a society need somehow to respond to one another, and recognize this isn’t a race issue, not a gender based issue, not an easily explainable issue. What is true is that a young woman has lost her life and the treasures of her future and her fiance, family and friends are forever altered. We can try to move forward. We can try to find understanding, empathy, and peace throughout the confusion. There is no easy solution, there is only reality, and the acknowledgment of horrific human error.

A Prayer For Meaning

eagle

StarTribune photograph

 

Today the battle won for the many,

those lives that fill our hearts with meaning,

the memories of laughter, filled the room,

when so many others were left alone.

 

Today, we do recall our brothers and sisters,

whose names we all know always forever,

the lives of strong, courageous beings,

went before our own to save such freedoms.

 

Today, in our ‘day off’ we must remember,

the many heartfelt thanks to all the members,

our lives are allowed to stand in sunshine,

only because their day off would be eternal.

 

So when we fire up the grill, pop the beverage,

when the favorite t-shirts and celebrations,

take over our country, light up the skies,

know the freedom they fought be not forgotten.

 

Be the infinite matter that defines our lives,

for their strength embolden our false security.

The Sitting Hours

I always looked forward to the late hours,

the night flying by with dialogue and absurdities,

everything we could say we believed, and more importantly,

we loved,

We did delight in knowing we could look in each other’s eyes,

well into the twilight,

all of us, whoever might have chosen the time,

or simply allowed ourselves to be drawn in,

that was the key,

we knew always we wanted to be there.

 

These are the holidays we would request

each other’s company,

my sister, brothers, and mom,

our sister’s, children and the occasion of¬†relatives …

so current on everything we knew.

to be important in everyone’s lives.

With dad in the background, an occasional chuckle,

he’d pass out the a beverage¬†with endearing blue eyes,

we all heard his screams inside,

the delight of our lives, he is a beautiful man.

 

We were, are, can be the beautiful people,

the family that smiles, tells jokes, lives lives with uncanny candor.

These are the nights when time would value,

only the shared nostalgia of wanting the laughs

in the history of our lives.

These are the holidays when love does always,

compete well with the nature of our own,

sweet recall, when the essence of everything we believed,

in the realm of the human condition,

could suddenly find the energy

to contribute the next line,

so the stories never found a way to end …

On People, Love, and executive orders …

I am thinking about my Muslim students tonight. I am thinking about my Latino, Mexican, African American, Somali, Hispanic, Russian, Asian & White students tonight. I am imagining the confusion in their minds this evening and this weekend as they realize their lives have been measured rather than given the freedoms they would like to believe exist for them as citizens of the United States. I am imagining my students who choose not to stand for the Pledge, and coming to terms with the reality of their decision. I am understanding frustration and fear.

I understand a lot of the misgivings that are going through their minds, and I can be empathetic to their struggle. I look in the eyes of the children in my classroom, and I see innocence and hope and faith turning toward a bitter, resentment that fuels the certain fear in their mind as they think about their families and cultural roots being slapped with restriction and discriminatory hypocrisy.

I can hope and pray that our political system recognizes the impulsivity of ‘executive order’ mania that has overwhelmed our first eight days under this ‘reign’ of power. I want to respect the office, but I keep seeing my students in the classroom, and right now those anxieties are what I will pay attention to in the coming weeks and months and years.

I’m ready to stand in line and protest this derision that has only begun to separate itself further from the essential work that has strengthened our civil liberties for decades, that in one full sweep has ignited a fear in the minds of many. I can only hope that our society will continue to focus on one concept that could, that needs, that can only begin the healing process.

That concept is love.

I am conscious of the mosaic of love that exists in our nation and will only believe we continue to recognize hope over fear. I will not be silent.

 

Across The World

eggs

We celebrate together in a charm

A love in wonder spoken free

With added tease in morning alarm

The children horde their candy

~

Such little cause to worry of their greed

Youthful ambition, the search

The plastic spheres is only their need

While the world arrives in church.

~

Inside the facade of precious childhood

We do protect, we wish only love

A world around crumbles a neighborhood

In the cooing mist of lovely dove.

~

A pain exists that frightens innocence

On Easter day we pray that life has chance