I was ten. I lived in Seattle. It was “unusual” weather; since we had arrived in Seattle the locals had claimed every turn in the climate was unusual. We were getting used to the darkness ascending around 4:00 pm. I was headed home from T.T. Minor Elementary school. I went to gymnastics down near Green Lake at Nikitin’s gym. I came home. I likely complained about what my mom cooked for dinner as well as the dinner conversation, surely overly-laden with hospital talk in my not-so-humble ten-year-old opinion. I went to bed.
And in New York, someone shot John Lennon.
On December 9th my mom cried when she heard the news. My dad refused to open the newspaper. The last I knew, he still had the entire San Francisco Chronicle unopened from that day. Though the Beatles had been known only as a historical concept to me, there was something still so inherently depressing to hear about a pathetic little man taking the life of someone who had chosen to give so much to so many. I grew up from the earliest days in utero until I started making my own (occasionally questionable) musical choices, surrounded by music that my parents loved and I am very grateful for this. I remember my first Beatles album (Meet the Beatles) that my mom got for me when I came home from school in the 4th grade belting out, “I wanna hold your haaaaaaaaaannnndddd!” [Couldn’t sing then, can’t sing now; don’t much care, because I still wanna hold your hand.] I was fascinated by this band and peppered my mom with questions. She patiently answered.
Who was your favorite Beatle?
Oh. I think I like George.
Because everyone likes Paul, you like John and Ringo is silly.
And George was always my favorite. But when I consider John Lennon and look at his life through a less pop cultural lens and consider his humanity, I must admit, the man was brilliant.
Beyond brilliant, perhaps. He embraced ideas that still not only resonate, but have the potential to make a difference in what we make of this world. That one man, on December 8,1980 was able to take away so much with a single act of violence is devastating. That we might allow ourselves to continue down a path laden with equally destructive thoughts and acts of our own volition is even worse.
Today, it is worth asking, What Would John Do?
Thank you, John Lennon.