Once in a blue moon I slip my old vinyl copy of The Beatles album “Let It Be” onto the turntable. I don’t listen to the songs of my youth very often anymore, but when I do, it’s usually Beatle’s music. That mood hit me yesterday.
I have a love/hate relationship with the slow, sad song “The Long and Winding Road”. What I don’t like about it, is Paul McCartney’s choice of vocal delivery of his song. What I like about it is the search for deeper meanings in the lyrics.
“The long and winding road that leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before it always leads me here
Leads me to your door….” (Lennon/McCartney)
Beatles fans know the tune was inspired by the road on Scotland’s Kintyre peninsula that leads to Paul’s home. He used the house as a getaway from the rush of being a Beatle.
McCartney, himself, once said, “I was a bit flipped out and tripped out at that time. It’s a sad song because it’s all about the unattainable; the door you never quite reach. This is the road that you never get to the end of.”
McCartney’s own interpretation runs parallel to the meanings the song I harbored before I learned about his meaning of it. To me the words were about not being able to change the past, yet still traveling down the road of life towards some sort of unattainable future ideal. It meant being aware of life’s promises and disappointments we all eventually face.
The song is relatable to how my path has changed since the spring of 1970. (The “Let It Be” album was released in May of that year, the same month I graduated from high school.) I will always associate the break up of the Beatles with letting go of the paraphernalia of youth.
It was time to let go of the concept of “blending in” or conforming with peers. It was time to find myself by going into the world at large to meet people from different cultures and ethnicities. It was the beginning of the process of really growing up and zeroing in on an adult identity by earnestly embarking on a life path.
The end of adolescence signals new circles of friends and new, scarier versions of trial and error as we become accustomed to the fresh experiences of independence and thinking for ourselves. We learn the value of having to do things we do not want to do, but must do in order to survive.
We meet some people who help guide us towards our goals and others who hinder our way. Part of the growing up process is figuring out what and who are helpful from what and who are harmful. Hopefully this becomes easier as we get older.
“Walking through life, we spend most of our energy choosing the right shoes.”–Ljupka Cvetanova
As we fumble our way along the path, we try out various beliefs and perhaps even belief systems. Do they feel right to us? Are they flexible enough to allow for further growth or do they squeeze our attitudes closed against further exploration? There are countless choices so it is wise to maintain a general focus yet be open to new possibilities that come up with the passage of time.
One usually evolves due to experiences. We adjust as our goals and needs shift or arise. We even alter our main belief system as we delve deeper into our existential truths. We can choose the default highway of victim-hood because of our experiences or we can walk the path of compassion because of our empathy. This is how we create some sort of purpose or personal destiny. How far do we travel? How often do we stop to admire the flora and fauna along the way?
As we pass along the path we will encounter many scary and threatening things and ideas. We learn that fear limits our vision and blocks us from many rewards. There is an alchemy our minds can harness that transforms fear into freedom.
We are often distracted and wander away from the path yet mindfulness will lead us back to our ultimate journey on the long and winding road.
The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders a teaching attributed to Shakyamuni Buddha. “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”