Updated: Jul 22, 2020
To: Jim & Deb and all who read this tale…may you remain forever young…
A comment on the title: the man who hired me out of the auto repair shops and into Avis Rent a Car's WHQ uttered prophetic words like these to me shortly before he retired. His actual words were,
"Tom, if I could do my career over again, I'd spend less time trying to prove I was right, and more time developing relationships."
My own ledger or "inventory" for 12-Steppers like me, is unclear on how I've measured up; SO, I just look to the present and try to be in right relationship whenever possible - beginning with those I live with - Eileen and John. As I've paraphrased before,
"G-d comes to us disguised as our wife (life)."
This post began as a celebration of the 40th wedding anniversary of my brother-in-law Jim and his wife Debbie. As I thought about their relationship, mine with Eileen, and those of other couples I know, I began to see our roles as married couples from a larger perspective. Follow me there…
This is an attempt to tell a story about the fruits of committed relationships. Using lots of music, especially Bob Dylan's, it interweaves related threads:
Storytelling – how and why we pass along to our children what matters most to us. Even before synagogue, temple, church, ashram, mosque or nature shrine, our homes - in fact, our very selves - are where we sit before the Presence – hopefully, like Moses, with unveiled faces – face to face – or as Thomas Keating liked to say, “Mouth-to-mouth.” Divine intimacy!
Marriage – and other forms of committed relationships are one way that we pass on our stories from generation to generation. Hope for the future…
Reverse Aging – In “My Back Pages” Bob Dylan sings, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” Like many of his verses, paradoxical for sure. I now see this imagery as his way of saying at least two things:
o As we age with OPEN eyes, ears, hearts and minds, we grow in wisdom and grace and are enabled to see past, present and future with renewed vision. In this expansive place, there is no time as we normally conceive of it. There is only NOW – this present moment…this present moment…this present moment…
o We’re only as old as we think – to the extent that we can evolve and grow and adapt to the inevitable changes that life presents - especially in our relationships - we will remain forever young at heart and forever young in mind.
“Forever Young” – For me, this Bob Dylan classic describes the results of neuroplasticity. I had this tune in mind when Eileen, John and I were doing our segment of your anniversary video compilation. It seemed to sum up how I see you - Jim & Deb - individually and as a couple.
Deb & Jim (& you readers - my extended family):
-->Here’s a link to Dylan’s song as it was performed at a NYC synagogue in 2016 as a tribute to Bob for his Nobel Prize in Literature.
Inter-generational Teaching – CSN&Y’s song “Teach Your Children” describes a back and forth cycle, whereby parents first teach their children; and, if they’re open, they in turn can be taught by their children – and this cycle repeats to their children’s children.
History Lessons in Music – Told as we’ve experienced them – not necessarily as they were told to us and to our children. This is where music, particularly songs about real issues that feature color-filled, not whitewashed, language – is a great teaching tool. Using the songs that we grew up with and marched to – we teach the next generation.
Our discography forms our sacred texts
ON STORYTELLING…PASSING ALONG OUR HERITAGE
As I was finishing my morning centering prayer meditation, the following imagery came to me.
The wisdom scriptures from our various spiritual traditions are given to us as a sacred trust – they are for us now and for our children and our children’s children. This successive passing on of what we’ve been entrusted with is to insure the continuation of our human family. As has been said, those who don’t know history are bound to repeat it.
The literal level of interpretation is usually the least helpful and the one over which wars – of words and bullets – are most often fought. The deeper levels of meaning – the contemplative, the mystical, the allegorical – are the ones that speak perennial wisdom to the soul and the ones that can unite us as a human family. Stories that house hidden truths emerge from this deeper well of meaning.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition in which I was raised, storytelling examples include:
Nathan the prophet’s confronting David with the story of the poor man and his ewe lamb. I noted similarities in this story and that of Thomas More’s confrontation with King Henry VIII, as told in the movie “A Man for all Seasons” that Eileen and I just watched.
Later, Jesus used parables – stories – that often began with “The Kingdom of G-d is like…a wedding feast…a vine…fine pearls…a seed…” (how appropriate for this post on your wedding anniversary)
What kinds of stories are we telling our children as they observe our interactions as married couples?
So, I’m going to tell a story – a story that I believe contains something for everyone. And, like many tellers of tales, I’m gonna’ meander along with side trips and backtracks, as I share what’s been given to me. In his acceptance speech for the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, storyteller, poet, prophet and mystic, Bob Dylan says pretty much the same thing. In trying to unpack why he was given an award in the literature category, he says that he will go about it “in a roundabout way, while hoping that what he will say will be worthwhile and purposeful.”
I hope to do likewise…
MARRIAGE - ONE WAY WE PASS ON WHAT MATTERS
Both Moses (in the Torah) and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (in their sacred songs) agree that we have a responsibility to teach our children – WELL.
“The next time your child asks you, ‘What do these requirements and regulations and rules that God, our God, has commanded mean?’ tell your child, “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and God powerfully intervened and got us out of that country. We stood there and watched as God delivered miracle-signs, great wonders, and evil-visitations on Egypt, on Pharaoh and his household. He pulled us out of there so he could bring us here and give us the land he so solemnly promised to our ancestors. That’s why God commanded us to follow all these rules, so that we would live reverently before God, our God, as he gives us this good life, keeping us alive for a long time to come.”
“It will be a set-right and put-together life for us if we make sure that we do this entire commandment in the Presence of God, our God, just as he commanded us to do.” (Deuteronomy 6:20-25 The Message)
"Powerful animated collaboration between song writer Graham Nash and celebrated filmmaker and animator Jeff Scher. The imagery frames the youth-led liberal activism of 2018 against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement and Peace demonstrations of the 1960's, providing a powerful visual aid to Graham Nash's relevant-as-ever appeal to teach not only our children but also our parents well."
“I wrote Teach Your Children because we have much to teach them. Conversely, I believe we as parents have much to learn from them as well. I think that Jeff Scher did a wonderful job of animating my lyrics and positioning the song in a contemporary setting." - Graham Nash (2018)
“I hope I die before I get old…”
--The Who: My Generation
…that is, old in my heart and head…I want to be forever young...
MAY YOU BE FOREVER YOUNG: AN INTER-GENERATIONAL MESSAGE
Deb & Jim: Hi! I hoped you had as much fun and full-heartedness as you viewed your anniversary video compilation - as we did in doing our small part of your larger celebration. You are loved by many – because of who you are.
Mike (Jim & Deb's son): You had a wonderfully creative inspiration for this gift of remembrance!
May you all be forever young…
After Michael asked us to join in, I began thinking of what I’d like to add. But my heart took over and, as I thought about you guys, I kept hearing the words,
This imagery seemed to capture both of you individually and as a couple. I then planned to use that as a soundtrack for our family’s video tribute to you. Well, that didn’t get in the can, as the idea fell to the cutting room floor.
But, like a possible Disney animation inspired by “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” the discarded film came dancin’ back to life. Here’s the scene – “Picture yourself…
…in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes
Celluloid film (Cellophane flowers) of yellow and green
Towering over your head
Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes
And she's gone”
Last minute add: A Rock & Roll History Lesson from a Mouse – MARRIAGE: A Magical, Musical Mystery Tour
Seeing Mickey, I remembered another mouse – a graphic artist known as “Mouse” or “Stanley Mouse” who did artwork (album covers, concert posters) for 60’s and 70’s rock bands. He collaborated with other artists like Alton Kelley and Rick Griffin.
“The pair (Mouse & Kelley) are credited with creating the skeleton and roses image that became the Grateful Dead's archetypal iconography, and Journey's wings and beetles that appeared on their album covers from 1977 to 1980.”
And here are some Dead [sic] flowers to celebrate your anniversary…
--not about a positive relationship…but a helluva song and in an intimate setting – real up close and personal
Speaking of hell…the rising smoke during this performance brought to mind another classic…
--very imaginative visual imagery – a helluva video!
Stay Tuned Movie Trailer – John Ritter, Pam Dawber & Eugene Levy – A film about relationships - diabolical and not...
--as long as we’re hovering around permanent warmer climates – and I’m not referring to global warming – Eileen and I just watched this movie last night about a couple in a relationship that needs HELP and gets some from HELL. Hell-arious!
"It's heaven all the way to heaven"
(Catherine of Siena) -
to which others have added:
"It's hell all the way to hell."
All of this imagery unfolded, as I started doing a short Facebook post for you guys. What followed was pure musical sorcery – witch [sic] brings me to my most important wish for you - I hope you feel loved. This post will be a keeper on my blog of remembrance.
Stardate: Tuesday – July 7, 2020
As Eileen and I were talking that morning, the word “Steamroller” got used in a sentence. Immediately, I remembered that there was a song with this word. As you probably know from my blogging, at this time in my life, almost ANYTHING can trigger a musical connection and subsequent adventure. Yogi YouTube, my musical guru, served up the following JT tune:
Knowing how much you both like Tanglewood and James Taylor, I looked for a version at that venue – and found a few - but I liked this one because JT tells the story of how he came to write it.
I then started steam rolling “Tanglewood” around in my mind (“it’s such a fine mind” – see “Encores” at end), and came up with the next two songs:
--it sort of fits in, seeing that it’s about relationships – and all relationships that have lasted as long as yours – and ours – surely involve struggles. If we try and we try, and we try, and we try…, we can work it out. (Rolling Stones & Beatles mashup)
--another and more positive view of relationships.
You Two Are Forever Young
And, now back to my soundtrack for your “This is Your Life” anniversary remembrance.
I begin with this wonderful 2016 version performed at Manhattan’s Central Synagogue as a tribute to fellow Jew, Robert Zimmerman, aka, Bob Dylan - on his 2016 Nobel Prize laureate in literature.
Forever Young – A Children’s Book by Bob Dylan (publisher’s promo)
--I put this one next because I believe, as Psalms tells us, that children are a heritage from the Lord. They are sent here to help us learn how to love. It’s a cyclical relationship…we teach them…then they teach us…and, if both parties stay awake…this cycle will keep repeating – both within this present generation and on to subsequent ones.
This video has a kindergarten/first grade teacher reading and turning pages from the complete book. I took this next screenshot because I see in this wonder-filled book your sons Michael (guitar) and Glenn (sax) playing their instruments. Plus, I saw a clarinet in the Central Synagogue video above and that reminded me of another member of your musical family – Glenn’s wife Jeannette.
As Mrs. Callahan turned the pages, I saw images that reminded me of other family members:
My sister Mary – a Callahan and a school teacher and devoted mom of 4 children, who is also celebrating an anniversary (July 12) with her husband Dennis – 40 years young!
My nephew Brian’s wife Maggie - The following illustration includes a VW bug, reminding me of how I got my start fixing cars – and shows a storefront for a music shop named “Maggie’s.” Maggie, married to Brian Callahan, is the daughter-in-law of Mary & Dennis. She just did a similar family video compilation that celebrated Mary & Dennis’s 40th knot-tying anniversary (July 12).
Maggie & Brian Callahan also happened to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary yesterday – July 11.
Ian & Grace Bethany ("extended family") also celebrated their 5th on July 11.
Glenn & Jeannette Duffy are also celebrating 5 years together on July 11.
GRANDPARENTS/PARENTS/AUNTS/UNCLES, ETC.: Mrs. Callahan Reads – a kindergarten/first grade teacher - just joined YouTube earlier this year and had uploaded several other books that she reads aloud. Enjoy them with your young family members. Here’s her YouTube channel.
Tips for Tellin' Tales: If you have the opportunity to tell stories - from your lives and the lives of others - to your grandchildren/children, pretend you’re Peter Falk reading to Fred Savage and add your own touches.
“Become like a little child…to enter heaven”
HISTORY LESSONS IN MUSIC
What Really Happened? See "Alternative History" at the end for posts I've already done on this topic. If we don’t learn from our history...
GENERATIONAL PROGRESSION: From “The Greatest” to the “Talkin’ ‘bout” Generations
My father and many of yours (or your grandfathers) were part of what history now calls “The Greatest Generation.”
We’ll I’m part of what I’m calling the “Talkin’-‘bout-my-generation generation.”
You might ask WHO wrote that song – to which I’d say, “YES.” Hmmmm
FYI - "WHO" could also stand for World Health Organization - IF, you think like me and others and view the music of my generation as good for the health of our bodies, minds and souls...
Me and my generation have a responsibility to “Teach our Children.” And this includes also listening to them…so we, in turn, can be taught by them.
Marriage is no laughing matter…or is it?
Alternative History – the Real Truth…so help me, G-d
More music and inspiration…to help us stay FOREVER YOUNG
Forever Young – Bob Dylan (w/lyrics in English and Spanish - song repeats at 5:00)
--I liked the two-generational imagery in this version
The next two videos about a Pete Seeger version of this song were produced with Amnesty International – USA. Both contain images of a “human rights passport.” Here’s a link where you can view a version from the UK.
Ends with: “Sing in me, O Muse, and tell the story.”
He begins this story with a experience at a Buddy Holly concert where, like Elijah and Elisha, the mantel of musical prophecy got passed from one soul to another.
He goes on to tell how his influences in classic literature influenced his life’s work, including:
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
The Odyssey by Homer
Contest for alert viewers: In which time frames does Bob meet Moses?
--with his young daughter
--with his adult daughter Ruby and her band “The Sisterhood”
– with their introduction of the fiddling and Irish jig interlude – they were “Rockin’ and Reelin.”
--ALL READERS: keep searching for your heart of gold…and you'll stay FOREVER YOUNG
“For I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now”
--compilation of Neil Young’s “Old Man” and Bob’s “Forever Young”
--I imagined it as both the young and old Bob Dylan’s meeting and singing this as a duet – one from a place at the beginning of his life and the other from farther down Highway 61. (note on "61" - I picked a version where you can understand the lyrics without the need for Google's "DylanTranslate."
--Bob Dylan, Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, George Harrison
--emotional rendition combining melancholic female voice plus NYC photos
I close this story with images of a book I was given by my sister-in-law Debbie. She got it for me at a talk by the author and asked him to inscribe it. What a beautiful prayer and wonder-filled gift!
“May you always know the truth
And see the light surrounding you”
--Forever Young – Bob Dylan