I remember it like it was yesterday. I was dreaming, merging the details of a news report coming from the radio in the next room with the movie playing out in my sleep. There was a gun; a man running away from a limp body sprawled out on an outdoor staircase, bleeding into the arms of a screaming woman. The dream moved in slow motion. A light was snuffed out. John Lennon was dead. I was 10 years old. It was just yesterday.
I went to school that day certain of one thing: dreamers died. The world was not safe for anyone. Anxiety crept into every crevice of my soul; I was a dreamer.
I was also a Beatles fan and a Lennon fan, too. I had an older brother who instilled music values on me. The Beatles were cool; disco was not. Lennon and McCartney were ingrained into my developing brain and to earn my brother’s acceptance, I memorized the songs in order on each Beatles record, side A and side B.
Lennon made it okay to be weird and think outside of the box. I was too young to understand his politics, but I understood his poetry. He was the kind of adult I thought they all should be, but I didn’t know a single adult like him.
My children know the Beatles because I immersed them in the music as much as I could, but their soulless pop music always wins out. They are not ready for the uncomplicated melodies and the complicated lyrics. They don’t understand why anyone wants to be the Walrus, or that Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds is a trip beyond Strawberry Fields Forever.
It is sad to think my children never lived in the time of Lennon.
When Nelson Mandela died last week, three days before the 33rd anniversary of Lennon’s murder, it took time to seep into my consciousness. Another great humanitarian gone; a bright light switched off. The world felt immediately darker. Anxiety for the future is never in short supply.
Watching the news I saw an interview with a white African father holding his young daughter on his shoulders as they danced outside of Mandela’s home with fellow mourners. The man said he’d brought his daughter to celebrate Mandela’s life and the changes in his country before her time, so she would remember this day and honour Mandela’s legacy. Hope has no colour. Everyone dancing was a dreamer.
You might think this isn’t a very cheery pre-Christmas column, but I counter that with the reminder that Christmas is and always was about peace and love. Whatever your belief or tradition, we all know the story of the guiding North Star, the one they say led the shepherds and Wise Men to Bethlehem. I lost my way planning for this holiday, focused on the financial stress of Christmas, only to be reminded in writing this column that Christmas isn’t about money at all. At least it shouldn’t be.
Christmas is the opportunity to teach our children the message of compassion for humanity, above all else. It truly is better to give than receive. As Lennon said, “We all shine on.” It’sInstant Karma, baby. There’s my hope. That’s the message. Love. Light. Peace. Christmas. Perhaps one day, the world will live as one. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
Writing has been my passion since I learned how to hold a pencil (which I still cannot do properly). Despite my father’s insistence that I would starve to death in this career, I remain well fed and eager to write more. They say you should do what you love: I love to write.