I took an amazing walk down memory lane this week and must share it with you. Not only because it brought back so many detailed memories of the past, but because it left me with an understanding that I am not sure I had before the walk. A die-hard Beatles fan from my earliest years, I heard their 1965 song In My Life recently. Written by John Lennon (with a little help from his friend, Paul McCartney) and released on their profoundly emotional Rubber Soul album, it has always been a favorite of mine. As I listened, I remembered all the lyrics, but heard an entirely different song than I remembered.
Thinking back to my teen listening days, I had always thought about this song as a nostalgic ode written to pay tribute to days gone by and fond memories of people and places to be revisited frequently. This week I heard an entirely different message: I am grateful to have so many wonderful memories to look back on, but my life now with all its challenges and setbacks, is exactly where I want to be. And I want to be here simply because I love who I am with. And that love is “more” than all the warm past memories!
Historians will tell you that John Lennon wrote this song at a time when the Beatles were reaching the pinnacle of their success, and he was being pressured to write more pop songs. He was also struggling with the dilemma that any writer faces … was his work honest and good and meaningful in conveying the message intended. Some even suggest that John was regretting the almost overnight fame the band had received and wished he could return to simpler times. All of this might be true, but Lennon later said of his autobiographical song that it was “a little piece of artwork” and his “first real major piece of work”. He was proud of it. And his message in my opinion: that no matter the wonderful past memories, they could not compare to the person, or the situation, or the life that stood before him in 1965. Whether his lyrics were directed to his wife and young son, his growing world recognition and fame, or his open invitation to create, John Lennon understood that the present moment was so much more than all that had come before. And as I listened to the song and even sang along, I for the first time knew it to be true for me. Things are certainly different in my life, but this is where I am meant to be.
I think there are college-level classes you can take about how the Beatles were able to achieve such amazing success, and why their music stands the test of time and resonates with millions of people who were not even alive in the sixties! I know I frequently relive my entire teenage years with just one CD – The Beatles 1 featuring 27 number one Billboard hits spanning eight years of their work. Yet, almost sixty years later I am reminded that “music is what feelings sound like.” And the same music sounds different at various times in our lives!
So, I am grateful for so many people and places that create fabulous memories of days gone by. But I am also grateful because I know I love where, and whom I am with, today. It is my privilege to be here. And I, like John, am getting by just fine “with a little help from my friends”.
Up for Discussion: What about you? Do you spend a lot of time thinking about easier days? Are you missing people and places you have not been able to visit? How do we as caregivers best shed thinking about the past and about the future and stay focused only on the gifts of today?