Friday, October 15, 2010

Priorities - Do We Have It Wrong?

I don't know what's wrong with this country (rhetorical).

In my opinion, people have totally lost sight of what's important.  A day off here and there for special events should be mandatory, not frowned upon.  Life should be a collection of experiences.  

I have much more respect for the wacky "Mame Dennis" relative than the convention followers.  This goes both for missing Work or School.

Now before I begin, I'm not talking about going all 'Ferris Bueller' (if that reference doesn't mean anything to you, go rent the movie).  I'm talking about events that come to town, opportunities that might mean missing a day of work or pulling a kid from school.

For the past decade, I worked for a fun company that very few people get to work for.  We'd have special events that we can invite people to.  These would be considered once-in-a-lifetime type things that most people wouldn't get to do or attend (OK so they usually were twice annually, but that's not my point).  Sometimes, these would mean missing a day of school if you were a kid.  These are special events that makes one's life richer in the big scheme. To NOT miss school for one day is wrong.

But OMG, the drama that could follow these requests totally blew my mind.  School is something like 180 days per year.  Missing a few of them for a "life experience" should not be a crime, but should be encouraged by the schools.  I mean, really... how much stuff is a kid going to miss in one day?  

Really?  When did our school systems suddenly get so good that the amount of knowledge gained in one day was so invaluable?

Life first.  Routine second.  Looking back on one's life, it will be the special events most likely remembered, not that Tuesday in November that you made sure you didn't miss school. 

I think I'd prefer that my kids rack up some absentee days to live life. 

[Disclaimer: No, I am not yet a parent, but I suspect my feelings on this issue will not change all that much... of course if my kid's grades suck, then the incentive to bring them up is so we can skip school from time to time.]

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Life Remembered - John Lennon

It was nearly 30 years ago today... Sgt. Pepper asked the band not to play, but to observe a moment of silence.

John Lennon had been murdered.  His voice forever silenced.

While the details of that tragic night need not be restated here, I wanted to recall my still vivid memories of that evening.

I was in the U.S. Navy, about a month out of Boot Camp and just completed my Basic Electricity and Electronics courses in Orlando, Florida.  I was out with some friends, celebrating and drinking at the club on base (I was under-21, but drinking alcohol was - and still is - legal on base for all military personnel).

Around 11PM, I stumbled back to my barracks.  In the morning I was shipping out to Naval Station Great Lakes outside of Chicago to continue my schooling.  I turned on the radio to listen to the news (I've been listening to all-talk/news radio since I was little boy as an aid in sleeping).

I staggered into the bathroom on the left, flipped on the light and began to pee.  Over the radio I heard the breaking news that John Lennon has been shot and that he was being rushed to the hospital.  In my current state, I only half heard it and only a quarter comprehended it.

After undressing, I climbed up into my top bunk a few minutes later.  The breaking news was now updated to report that John Lennon had died.  I quietly cried myself to sleep.

This entire incident only took about 15 minutes.  

The next morning when I awoke, my nightmares had been confirmed: John Lennon was dead.  It touched me very deeply as this was the first of MY icons to die.  While Elvis had died a few years early, he belonged to a different generation, but John was mine.

As I sit here now 30 years later, on what would have been his 70th Birthday - listening, enjoying and pondering his music (as I will again in two months ago on the anniversary of that tragic and senseless day), I want to again remember his legacy and his words.  While he was considered by some to be a radical, he was poet who more than anything else, proffered peace and love.

I can think of no better final thought than to remind you all of the lyrics to "Imagine":

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one