Monday, August 17, 2009

Not Just Anybody

This past weekend was the Fest for Beatle Fans, which my wife, my father-in-law and myself attend every year. This was a particularly good year; the special guests performed such a range of Beatle-related music as "Say Say Say" by Paul McCartney and the late Michael Jackson, and "Everybody's Got Something to Hide 'Cept for Me and My Monkey" from the White Album.

This weekend I also got spammed on a very old post at my other blog, Strangely Dim. It happened to be about John Lennon, dating to December 8, 2005--the twenty-fifth anniversary of his death. I repost it here because I still like it, and because John's mindfulness is still worth keeping in mind.


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I've tended to be a Paul McCartney guy, myself, but as a songwriter and founder of the Beatles, Lennon was a force of popular music. You can still hear his influence even on people who don't know they've been influenced by him.

I was ten when John died. I don't remember the moment, but I do remember the aftermath. My family went to the library the next day, where we joined a room of people watching news reports. I acted like a ten year old, running around and goofing off, and I was rebuked and chased away by the gathered crowd. It was a brief foreshadowing for me that the world is not as innocent and playful as we're allowed as children to imagine it.

I was ill-prepared today to commemorate John's passing, but fortunately I was able to borrow the soundtrack to The Royal Tenenbaums, which features a little song by John: "Look at Me." I'd not heard it before, but it's emblematic of some of John's most intimate writing:

Look at me. What am I supposed to be? . . .

Here I am. What am I supposed to do? . . . What can I do for you? . . .

Who am I? Nobody knows but me. . . . Nobody else can see--just you and me.


Maybe he's singing to Yoko or his mom or his dad or the universe or me, but the genius of it is that it sounds like something you whispered just last night to a lover or a parent or the universe. Anyone can sing it to anyone at any given moment. I might sing it to God; God might sing it to me. Either way, it'll occupy my thoughts long after it's sung.

In the wake of these lyrics or these thoughts I'm reminded of my own finiteness and of the grace of God, who comes to us and reveals himself to us and abides with us--a great favor to a world of people who can only comprehend so much. I'm reminded of a quirky little line from St. Augustine I came across in David Benner's book The Gift of Being Yourself:

Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know thee.

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