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I still remember the day I was first introduced to him — a man I would never meet in person, but who would have a significant effect on my life. My sixth-grade music teacher did the introduction, as he played various clips of songs by The Beatles as part of a ‘music appreciation’ lesson plan one day. I ran home that day from school, and searched frantically for any CDs my parents had by the ‘Fab Four’. I found “The White Album,” and listened to it from start to finish, all eighty minutes of it, and fell in love with the music. This day, though I did not know it, would change my life forever, as it brought me to John Lennon. For weeks I was humming “Blackbird” and “Bungalow Bill” ,among other tunes, unable to shed them from my mind. It was not long before I owned every album The Beatles had produced, and moved on to appreciating John Lennon’s work in his post-Beatles career.
People are constantly affecting one another. This is a lesson I have learned in my eighteen years of life thus far, and one that I can place my complete trust in. I have plenty to be thankful for, especially for those who surround me. My parents provided for me, and taught me right from wrong. My younger siblings taught me responsibility and caring (changing all those diapers, taking them to the movies when my mother needed a break, among many other things). My friends provided a social scene for me to grow and learn. But when I think of a person who has truly helped shape what type of person I am today, I can say with confidence that Mr. Lennon has had a deep impact on my personal characteristics. It is truly amazing to think that one could learn life lessons from someone one has never met, but I believe that all of humanity could benefit from the lessons Mr. Lennon offered me.
“My role in society, or any artist or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all,” Mr. Lennon said. The truth in that statement brings out the truth in all of his statements. Lennon provided a reflection of humanity, of how all of us feel at some points in our lives. I took this philosophy to heart, and Mr. Lennon pulled an idea from my mind that would shape my values and ideals: We, as a general population that inhabits this planet, are all as one. We all coexist, and regardless of each other’s differences in goals, virtues, and lifestyles, we must be accepting of one another. Songs such as “Mind Games” and “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” brought this interpretation of the world to my eyes, with lyrics crystallizing in my mind: “Whatever gets you through your life, it’s alright, it’s alright”.
In an interview with Dick Cavett, Mr. Lennon was asked if he considers himself British, and he simply stated: “If you think in terms of ‘from over here or over there,’ I’m from over there.” He went on to describe that he did not see any real differences between people, except things such as “Long hair, short hair, or over thirty, under thirty.” There is a lesson I have learned from statements such as those. We should not view each other as fundamentally different (whether we are from America, Israel, Iceland, or anywhere; Mr. Lennon himself expressed his view on this in his song “Imagine,” where he asked of the listener to “Imagine there’s no countries” ), but rather should view each other as part of the same human species.
Lennon’s music lives on forever, and in a way it allows him to live forever. I have become more of an adult through him, as respect for one another I believe is a huge indication of maturity. This is a characteristic that allows me to see and gain so much more appreciation in the world, and I know that everyone has the ability to see the world like this as well. One way or another, we all must experience this, and Mr. Lennon allowed me to do so.
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