As John himself said, "I don't wanna face it."
It's about 9:10 here at the moment, which means in New York City, it's 10:10 p.m. On this date twenty-five years ago, at 10:50 p.m., John was shot five times in the back as he was returning home to say good-night to his son Sean. With that horrible act, the world was changed forever--and the stage was set for me fifteen years later to be drawn back into writing.
As I've said before, I barely remember John's murder; I didn't pay a lot of attention to public events like that when I was ten. As I grew up, I became a casual fan. I remember listening to Sgt. Pepper in a friend's house when I was in high school, and I had a tape of some of their hits. (Yes, a tape; for some reason, I didn't bother buying CDs until I was well out of college. Could be because my stereo didn't actually play CDs, just tapes.) So when the Beatles' Anthology aired in November 1995, I was interested enough to watch.
Some background is necessary here: during this time, although I had a job in Madison, my favorite city, I hated my job and didn't get to see Eugene too often--maybe once a month or so. After watching the first episode of the Anthology and getting "Free as a Bird" (a lot of fans don't count this as a real Beatles song, but it has special meaning for me) stuck in my head, I had a new interest. Twenty-five is relatively old to become hooked on the Beatles; most fans I know at Beatlelinks, one of the forums I belong to, became fans as kids or teenagers. I made up for lost time quickly by buying the CDs (yes, I had discovered CDs by now) and reading as many books as I could. I didn't have a favorite at first, but the more I learned about the Fab Four, the more interested I became in John.
Why John? Well, the first thing that drew me to him was our shared interest in writing. But the more I learned about him and his many contradictions, the more fascinating he became. And to be honest, the Beatles made for good eye candy. Don't worry; I'd been with Eugene for five years before I became a Beatlemaniac, and in my life, I love him more.
So, what does it mean to me to have John as a patron muse, so to speak? For those of you who've read Lennon's Line, that should be obvious. ;) John and the other Beatles with their four-fold synergy inspired me to create my own quartet: the Season Lords in Day of All Seasons, which I'm currently running through the workshop. But John has influenced me in other ways too. John had a "sideways" way of thinking, as can be shown if you attempt to read his books. They may be in English, but you really have to think to follow his wordplay. I'm very much a left-brained person, very methodical, logical, and linear, so John can shake up my thinking. He's also made me write some difficult passages. Five years ago, on the 20th anniversary, I wrote a scene about his death from his POV (set in the afterlife). I never used that scene anywhere, but after writing it, I feel I can write on any subject I need to.
I'm not listening to John's solo work tonight; it's too intense. I did listen to some of my favorites of his while commuting to work today. One of the songs I heard was "God," which includes the lyrics:
The dream is over; what can I say?
The dream is over, yesterday
I was the dreamweaver
but now I'm reborn
I was the Walrus
But now I'm John
And so, dear friends,
You just have to carry on
The dream is over.
John's dream and the dream of the Beatles is over, but now it's up to us to carry on, to make the most of our talents, to love each other, and to make the most of our lives before fate makes other plans. Now it's time for me to have a moment of silence for John and for all the other victims of violence, reread a chapter of Lennon's Line, then go on writing. Today of all days, it's important to keep writing. To borrow some more lyrics (this time from Peter Gaberiel's "Biko"):
You can blow out a candle
But you can't blow out a fire
Once the flames begin to catch
The wind will blow it higher
John may be dead, but we are still here, and we can combine to create our own fire. Seize the day.