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Imagine

Updated: Feb 11


Forty years ago today, Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon outside of the Dakota, his residence in New York City.


I, as millions of others, will never forget that day. I cried and was depressed for weeks, mourning the loss of my childhood idol.


John Lennon was much more than a Beatle, and that in itself, is monumental. John was an artist, painter, poet, and filmmaker. (https://artofjohnlennon.com). He studied art at the Liverpool Art Institute from 1957-60. His art, as his songwriting, centered on peace and love.


Lennon was a passionate anti-war political activist-a spokesperson for a generation, both through his music and Bed-ins for Peace.


Who can forget John and Yoko’s infamous Bed-ins for Peace demonstrations (1969), derived from sit-ins, in which groups of anti-establishment individuals remained seated in protest until they were evicted, arrested, or their demands were met. The Lennon’s bed-ins were intended to be non-violent protests against the Vietnam War- a novel experiment to find a new way to promote peace.


Lennon’s bed-ins were filmed and made into the documentary, Bed Peace. In 2011, Yoko Ono made the documentary available for free on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRjjiOV003Q).


John's keen intelligence was undeniable. Lennon claimed that at sixteen, he was administered an IQ test, scoring a whopping 165. True or not, he was known for his fierce intellect, acerbic wit, perceptiveness, charisma, and outspoken nature. Many describe him as “An enormous personality.”


Lennon was also deeply philosophical and spiritual. He firmly believed in the afterlife. As he stated,


“I am an optimist about eternity. I believe in life after death. I believe that death is not an end but a beginning.”


He was open to the idea of life on other planets. In August 1974, John claimed to have seen a UFO in Manhattan, with his then girlfriend, May Pang:


As we walked out onto the terrace, our eyes caught this large, circular object coming towards us. It was shaped like a flattened cone, and on top was a large, brilliant red light, not pulsating as on any of the aircraft we'd see heading for a landing at Newark Airport.... When it came a little closer, we could make out a row or circle of white lights that ran around the entire rim of the craft - these were also flashing on and off. There were so many of these lights that it was dazzling to the mind.

It was widely believed that Lennon, high on LSD, imagined the encounter. Yet, when John called the police to report the incident, he was informed that they had received numerous other calls about it.


Yet, like the rest of us, he was human. He was flawed. He often behaved in a conceited manner, and was distant from his first son, Julian (with ex-wife Cynthia Lennon). In a 1980 interview he openly admitted to being emotionally and physically abusive to his wives, and often cruel and callous to those he loved most.


Despite my awareness of his infidelities and unacceptable behavior towards women, I admire, at times if not the man himself, his passion towards life, towards peace, towards truth-seeking. I try to reconcile the domestic abuser with the artistic genius-with the person, who, in his final years, devoted himself to his wife Yoko and son Sean.


During the last years of his life, he tried to make amends. As Daniel Arkin, reporter for NBC News has written:


And yet, in the final years of his life, Lennon appeared to become keenly self-aware and self-critical. He seemed to recognize that he could find redemption by committing himself to his second wife and second son, referring to the period as a "penance" for the sins of his past.

"He offered a brutally self-critical assessment of who he had been as a man," "I think he was trying to make amends for the person he had been."


Indeed, he has left the world many gifts-the greatest, perhaps, his creative masterpiece, “Imagine.” It has always been, and remains, my favorite song. Its lyrics call to me-they are my mantra. As John, I too have been called an idealist, a “dreamer” for fervently hoping that one day, the “world will be as one.”


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

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

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


At this moment, our nation is angry and incredible divisive. Thus, isn’t Lennon’s Imagine, and its unifying message as relevant today as it was in 1971? It is more than a song. It’s an enduring reflection of peace, love, and hope.


Today, John would have been celebrating his 80th birthday. If he were alive, I wonder what his thoughts concerning 2020 would be. After all, he was never one to mince words.


In a recent interview, May Pang (John and Yoko’s personal assistant, and later John's girlfriend) described them this way:


I imagine his voice now. I can almost hear him looking around this year during coronavirus, with all different factions, with people fighting about wearing or not wearing masks, or the nonsense coming out of Washington, and him going, “Are you kidding me? What is this?” I miss that. He made me question authority. I think he made everyone question authority.


I think so too.

P.S. Rolling Stone Magazine rated Imagine the third best song of all time.




Check out or new book: Convergence: The Interconnection of Extraordinary Experiences



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