March 20, 2013

Working Class, Simple Living Hero

John Lennon - working class, simple living hero
Not only did the Beatles music provide a major portion of the sound track of my life, but John Lennon also helped to provide a track through life that I thought I might like to follow. It was a track that led to a simpler, slower way of being away from the noise and commotion of the merry-go-round of life.

While financially wealthy and able to purchase or do anything, Lennon remained grounded in the things that really matter in life. He stressed the importance not of fame or riches or even his own musical genius, but of more basic things such as love, peace, cooperation, and doing it your own way.

He was a rebel, more than likely from birth. When Lennon was very young he was already experiencing clashes with dominant modes of thinking that did not make sense to him. He said,
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
I can relate to his way of thinking. All my life I have felt that the "what do you want to be" line of questioning was lame, limited, and somewhat perplexing. What I really wanted to be when I was young was myself.

And when I grew up? Well, I wanted to be me, but a taller, smarter, more free me. Doesn't everyone want that? Everything else is just the details.

Super star - stay at home dad

John was great at his main focus, as well as working out the details. He and Yoko knew the value of a stress-relieving, multi-day lie in - he knew how to go slow. Lennon also learned to enjoy the simple pleasures of baking his own bread. In spite of his massive musical accomplishments, the first loaf made with his own hands he pulled from his oven in amazement.

"I took a Polaroid photo of my first loaf", he said of his baking success. "I was overjoyed, you know. I was that excited by it. I couldn’t believe it, it was like an album coming out of the oven. It looked great, you know, and it tasted good—that was pretty damned good." I was inspired not only by his music and activism, but also by his ability to turn off and tune out.

The song, Watching The Wheels, describes the 5 year period of Lennon's life in which he pulled back from the busyness of work to 'let it go' in favour of a quieter, more simple life that focused on family. And baking bread.

Music wasn't the only thing Lennon baked up

Watching The Wheels

People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing,
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin,
When I say that I'm o.k. they look at me kind of strange,
Surely your not happy now you no longer play the game.

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away,
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me,
When I tell that I'm doing Fine watching shadows on the wall,
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball?

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,
I really love to watch them roll,
No longer riding on the merry-go-round,
I just had to let it go,

People asking questions lost in confusion,
Well I tell them there's no problem,
Only solutions,

Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I've lost my mind,
I tell them there's no hurry...

I'm just sitting here doing time.

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,
I really love to watch them roll,
No longer riding on the merry-go-round,
I just had to let it go.

John Lennon has influenced which track I chose to follow in my life. There came a time in my own experience that I had to get off the merry-go-round, and indeed, some people looked at me as if I had lost my mind for quitting teaching and adopting a voluntary, low income/low footprint, simple life.

John Lennon and other working class, simple living heroes like him, have given me the strength to do it my own way, to be a rebel, and to let it all go in favour of a life that makes more sense to me.

Thanks, John... and Ringo, George, and Paul. Now, time to bake some bread and be happy that I am no longer playing the game. 


  1. Anonymous3/20/2013

    The Beatles provided the soundtrack to my life as well. I grew and changed as they grew and changed.

    Think I'll go bake some bread!

    1. It seems that the Beatles were always growing, experimenting, and trying new things. Even today Paul McCartney is a force to be reckoned with.

      When Linda and I were in Rishikesh, India in 2001, we realized it was the place that the Beatles went in the 60s to stay in an ashram. During our stay George Harrison died. It was amazing to see how the Indian people responded to his passing. He was like their adopted son.

      Mmmm. Baking bread is such a timeless, and simply satisfying activity.


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