I took this photograph two years ago during Christmas vacation when Joanne and my son, Chris and I went to visit New York City during Christmas vacation. Chris had never been to New York City and was eager to see The Big Apple. Having grown up in suburban Connecticut within an hour of New York City, I traveled there fairly frequently during my youth, particularly around the holidays. I am, admittedly, not much of a "city person," but the sights of New York City during the holidays are pretty spectacular.
Strawberry Fields, a 2.5-acre section of Central Park dedicated to the memory of John Lennon, was the one place I was eager to visit. I had never been there and was eager to see it.
I recall vividly the night John Lennon was murdered on December 8, 1980. I was very much involved in playing music during my youth and was completely enamored of the Beatles and John Lennon in particular. The night he was murdered I was listening to WPLJ radio as I went to bed and was surprised to hear "Imagine" playing, since their playlists tended toward heavier rock. When the song ended, the DJ came on air with clear emotion in is voice and announced that John Lennon, my boyhood idol had been gunned down outside his apartment in New York City.
Grief stricken is as close as I can come to express how I felt. Even at my youthful age of 12, I idolized John for his commitment to peace as much as I did for his music. At the risk of overstatement, I think much of my youthful innocence died when I came to the realization that the world harbored maniacs that would kill such a peaceful, yet complicated, soul like John. In my early teens and beyond I read and tried to learn as much as I could about John and not all that I've read has been flattering. He struggled with inner demons and engaged in some incredibly self-destructive behavior in his post-Beatles years and was admittedly quite unsure of himself despite outward appearances to the contrary. These are qualities--for lack of a better term--I understand.
I like John and many, many others of us, have struggled with inner demons. For many years I went against my natural grain, trying to be someone I wasn't meant to be, and doing just about anything to avoid admitting how untrue to myself I had become. I had--for reasons beyond this particular blog post--cast away a promising future as a professional musician and embarked upon a different and utterly unfulfilling career. For many years, my life was bereft of music, art or any sense of beauty. I was adrift and miserable. Thankfully, my inner turmoil became too much and through hard and steady work, I no longer have to live my life like that anymore. I am, at my core, an artistic and creative soul and I need and want to express life creatively. While my relationship with music is still. . . complicated . . . I have discovered great satisfaction, peace and serenity through photography.
So, tonight, 33 years after John was senselessly gunned down, I pause to remember his life, his work and his struggles. I think John's death would have been incredibly sad regardless of the circumstances. That he was murdered at a time when he appeared to have finally found some inner peace makes his death all that more tragic. While I often wonder what further contributions, musical and otherwise, he would have made had he lived, I am grateful for all that he left us.