In My Life

Ken AshfordRandom MusingsLeave a Comment

JlmemI was a freshman at Tufts University on December 8, 1980.  It was a rather dreary day outside as I recall, although I also recall not going outside — I was in the midst of studying for finals.  My first college finals, in fact.  And because I was intimidated by the unknown, I was studying hard and diligently.

At that time, my friend and guru in all matters collegiate was a warm and wonderful Tufts senior named Judy Pike, who took me under her wing for God-knows-what reason.  She thought I was "cute" — at least that’s what she said — and I held her in high regard, but for her obvious lack of taste and high standards in men.  Anyway, her reassurances that I not stress over final exams went largely unheeded.

But she did interrupt my studies late that evening with a phone call to see how I was doing.  We talked about psychology — I was studying for my Intro to Psychology finals, and she was a psychology major.  We were also commiserating about the recent election of Ronald Reagan.

Anyway, she must have had her T.V. on in the background because she suddenly interrupted the flow of the conversation.  "Oh, my God," she said.  "Lenin’s been shot."  I was pretty sure that Lenin was already dead, and had been for many decades.  I was struggling to recall when he died, but before I could say anything, Judy added: "John Lennon."

As I recall, the news of his actual death came shortly after that — within minutes

I was not then, and am not now, a huge John Lennon fan.  But that was one of those few watershed moments in life where you have to sit back and wonder — aloud — "why"?  All he did was talk and sing about peace and love.  Of course, he was in a long line of peaceloving people who got shot — MLK, Bobby, etc.  The fact that it turned out to be a deranged fan, rather than someone with a political vendetta, made the senseless assassination all the more senseless.

Lennon was 40 when he was killed.  I’m 43 now, and still looking for my Yoko.  I try to derive some wisdom and meaning from that, from his death, from the anniversary of his death.  I have nothing.  It’s just something that happened to someone who took a different path than me.  And it recalls a much simpler time in my life, when a young unjaded man’s innocence could be shaken by such an event.