Like so much of what we think we understand when we were young, we discover later in life that our understanding lacked depth. What we thought we knew are merely a two-dimensional truth. This has become abundantly true to me in the past several years. I realize that I have acquired an added dimension of knowledge and understanding.
For example, I came back from Myanmar (Burma) three years ago and had a routine visit with Dr. Marchand, my cardiologist. My office visit was within a week of being back in the States. He checked my heart, and all was fine. Then Dr. Marchand ended his exam with a closing line that he always uses. "You are fine. See you in six months, unless you have any questions."
I had a haunting question and asked about being so wired. Dr. Marchand looked at me and said, "You have seen the light." My job was to figure out how Dr. Marchand's diagnosis could explain my life. Thus began a long and exceptionally fascinating journey of discovery. Finally, my yellow brick road of life was being more clearly understood.
What did I discover as I looked back to connect the dots in my life? I had danced with death twice in 2008 and recovered from both dances. Having said that, I didn't realize that I had done the dances nor their effect upon me until I had dinner with Mike Schmitt. We hadn't met before, and so he asked me to tell him something about myself. Man, that was an extremely leading question reminiscent of Dr. Marchand's statement.
I told Mike. He sat there throughout dinner listening about me and my life. When we ordered dessert, Mike was able to ask another question about whether I had seen Randy Pausch's Last Lecture? I said that I hadn't and kept on talking about my recent journey down the yellow brick road of my life. As we said good-bye, Mike promised that he'd email me a link to the Last Lecture.
The next morning, I began my routine of teaching online and writing essays for my webpage. Having ADD, I quite often get distracted while teaching or writing. That morning was no exception. An email arrived. Mike had sent a link to Pausch's Last Lecture. So I started to watch his lecture, which was an hour and sixteen minutes long.
It should be noted that I have attended over a dozen years of lectures at the college, graduate school, and post-graduate school level. I have also taught various humanity classes at the college level in the past two decades, which also included hundreds of my lectures. Never have I heard or given a better lecture...NEVER. Pausch's lecture was his firsthand understanding of his dancing with death...NEVER. That single lecture began the process of putting the pieces of my life together in a way that I finally could comprehend. Talk about seeing the light; I was now really wired.
A couple of months ago, I was in Indy watching my two young grandchildren, Jack and Owen. That evening, Jason, their father, returned home from work. As I was leaving, we talked about one of my most recent windmills about which I was joisting like one of my mentors, Don Quixote. I had wanted to interview Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, often called the Lady, for years and have been unsuccessful. I told Jason that I had written to Moh Moh, who was my tour guide when I was in Myanmar, about my disappointment about failing to interview the Lady. Moh Moh accepted that I had failed, but, in her own words, she told me to be more like Don Quixote and dream the seemingly impossible dream. Again, as with Dr. Marchand and Mike's comments, I came truly alive.
I have done as Moh Moh suggested, and I have begun a long list of what I call getting my ducks in order. To be honest, I am not sure that the Lady has seen my email, video, and other material that I sent her. However, I truly believe that she will grant me an interview, which will be the most important moment in my entire life.
After sharing with Jason my determination to sit down with the Lady, the next day he sent me a link to a Rolling Stone article about Graham Nash, which I read. Then I emailed him a long analysis of me, which resulted in an essay, Free to be Me.
However, Jason's link regarding Nash got me pondering again while Neil Young's Heart of Gold played in the background, which resulted in an essay, which was based upon that song.
As chance would have it, it wasn't long before this knight-errant was into listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young's Teach the Children.
As I began, I emailed Jason again; this time about my emotional high due to Nash, Young, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young's songs.
The essay about Nash and me will go into cyberspace in October. However, all this started with your email about Rolling Stone's article about Nash. Then I wrote and pondered about me and returned to you a long email. Then that experience of writing forced me to address my haunting questions. I wrote it and sent it to China, my web administrator. I was happy and content and moved on to some other issues....
Then I stumbled over Neil Young's Heart of Gold, which emotionally was a trip...literally and figuratively. That essay was written and sent to China. Done. Again, I felt content and moved on....
Until I stumbled over Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's Teach Your Children. I am going to write about that now. In October, three articles about where I am.
Now, where do I find myself on my yellow brick road? I am still wrestling with the issue of this transformation within me. I have many of the pieces of my life's puzzle fitting together, which explains my emotional high and being so driven. I get the combination of doing the dance and my advanced age. However, it is beyond that. Until I resolve my hauntings, they won't stop. I get the issue of teach the children. However, for me, it is beyond the issue of just my three adult children and my adult granddaughter. It really is on steroids when my three much younger grandchildren enter the picture. Jack and Owen are six and four. However, the other grandchild is Ti Ti. She lives in Myanmar. Ti Ti is as much my granddaughter as Jack and Owen are and my adult granddaughter. That is a haunting.
However, I am not particularly haunted about what to teach them and my children. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young put a frame around my drive, obsession, and being emotionally high. There I sat listening, pondering, re-listening, re-pondering, et al for an hour. Do me a personal favor, lean back in your chair, listen, and then ponder for yourself.
After pondering again while listening to that song, this is what I can congeal together, which is the basis of this musical montage of meaning. How are we to respond to their demand to Teach Your Children? Half my life ago when I sang along with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, I loved the song and had absolutely no semblance of what the lyrics meant, nor did I care. Today, when I hear that song, I clearly get the message. Interestingly, the Rolling Stone's article was about Nash who wrote this song also.
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young want the older generation to push two things: a code for the younger generation to adopt so that they can live in this world with a purpose. This code will be the formative part of who they are to become. In addition to the code, we are to teach our children to dream. That, in combination with their code, will be how they will be known to the world.
Interestingly, the younger generation is to help the older generation face the fears that amass during their long lives. That synergy between the two generations creates both a path for the younger generation and comfort for the older group.
Finally, having danced with death twice, I have a perspective on life that I couldn't have possessed decades ago. Time is running out for me. Nonetheless, I have an abundance of dreams still to realize. That reality causes me to be far more motivated than ever before. As a 21st century Don Quixote, I have much to do. However, there is a strange aurora that settles in amid the volume of windmills facing me in life. It is a strange sense that all will be well.
Visit the Burma Independence page to read more about this topic.
Visit the On Seeing the Light page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Connecting the Dots page to read more about this topic.
Visit the The Last Lecture page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Dancing with Death page to read more about this topic.
Visit the My Hauntings page to read more about this topic.
Visit the "Don Quixote" page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Music I Love and Why page to read more about this topic.