Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Sad Weekend

I am saddened this weekend by the loss of two famous people.  Whitney Houston died yesterday afternoon, cause unknown.  Glen Campbell has not died yet, but he is dying slowly of Alzheimer's disease.

Whitney Houston had a fantastic singing voice, and she was beautiful as well.  She has left behind an incomparable singing legacy, and she even performed well as an actress in the movie "The Bodyguard" with Kevin Costner, a ground breaking movie at the time because of the interracial relationship portrayed in the movie.  Yet she paid a heavy price for her fame and talent.  Perhaps if she had a little less talent and a little less fame, she would have been more able to pay the price for her talent and fame, and Whitney Houston would still be alive today.  It is sad when someone dies so young (she was only 48 when she passed after all) and with such a talent, but it is even sadder to think what the drugs and alcohol did to her, that they caused her to lose that talent, and maybe ultimately, her life.

Glen Campbell has a great talent of his own, a talent for singing and for playing the guitar.  According to CBS Sunday Morning,  Glen Campbell played guitar on many recordings, including at least one recording of Frank Sinatra.  He even was a Beach Boy for 6 months before making records of his own and hosting a TV show for 4 years.  He has had many hit songs, and he acted with John Wayne in "True Grit".  He is 75 now, and last year he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.  Not only is there no cure for this disease, but it robs a person of who they are, their ability to remember things and remember people.  It robs people of their personality.  Glen Campbell is on his last concert tour, and his last album is now out.  Three of his children play in his band, including his daughter who helps him stay on track, especially during the concerts.  His life is slowly ebbing away, and it is so sad to see that happen to Glen Campbell.  It is so sad to see that happen to anyone.

Friday, February 3, 2012

No Man is an Island

No Man is an Island is the title of a poem by John Donne, an English poet who lived from 1572 to 1631.  Why am I bringing this up?  I am not known for reading poetry, or for knowing anything about poetry.  That is usually left to a fellow blogger Dan Verner, who is a retired English teacher.  However in one of my GED classes yesterday, the subject about being connected came up, and John Donne's famous poem came to my mind.  I remembered studying about it in high school, which is quite a feat for me at my age.  It is a short poem, but a very meaningful one.  So I recite it here.

No man is an island entire of itself; every man 
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; 
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe 
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as 
well as a manor of thy friends or of thine 
own were; any man's death diminishes me, 
because I am involved in mankind. 
And therefore never send to know for whom 
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. 

As I see it, this poem is saying we are all connected to each other, that when we lose someone, we are in someway diminished.  A part of ourselves is gone, never to be retrieved.  Even if we do not know the person, we are affected by the death of this person, whether we realize it or not.  If a church bell is tolling for that person, it tolls for us as well.  A part of us has also died.

I am not sure when John Donne wrote this poem, in the 16th or 17th century, but obviously there was not much technology around then, not to today's standards.  I think he would be more than amazed to see the technology of today.  He would be amazed to see how connected we are through our social media of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the like.  But are we really connected in the way John Donne would like us to be?  Do we feel the lose of someone on the other part of the world, or the lose of someone across the street?  We still fight each other.  We still hotly debate the issues of the day, but we debate in a personal and hurtful way.  We have the "my way or the highway" attitude.    

I wish people realized how connected we are to each other, not by our technology, but in a spiritual sense.  We are all human beings, and we have more things that are the same than are different.  If we focused more on the things we hold in common, perhaps we would get along a little better.  That may be a lot to ask, but if we don't ask, it won't happen.