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  • Andre Lamartin

A Tale of Yesterday for Today

Feeling sorry for myself never solved any problems, but sometimes, it certainly helped. It gave me the time to learn from past wrongs, and the foresight to avoid future mistakes. A man who cannot understand himself becomes a directionless victim of fate. Unable to be of service to others, abiding by rules that only chance and circumstance dictate. The man I was yesterday is not the man I am today. Every new experience changes my world in subtle ways. Knowing yourself is not a task undertaken only at an early age, but one to be repeated at life´s every stage. What we call experience is the personal growth not measured in weight. It is the true stature of a human being after all the trials he faced. As I sit down to write this morning, I wonder if it is not too late, to ask myself what I learned yesterday, and determine whom I became today.

Yesterday, my sense of direction was unwavering, never failing even once. Always leading me down the right path, the one destined all along. My dreams kept me alive, my family kept me strong; friends were a source of joy, studying a pleasure to prolong, affirming my identity and the place where I belonged. My education was an end in itself: every question had an answer taken from the bookshelf. There was an order in my life impervious to the surrounding chaos of the world: no question left unanswered, no mystery left unfurled. There was great hope in the future, and the present day a gift always so deserved. Then came the troubles of life turning my world upside down, a once proud strategist now recast as a clown, in a manner so utterly unplanned, recounting this tale of woe is not the goal at hand. Suffice to say that it ended the days of old. Yesterday took its leave, but not before scarring a boy once so bold.

Today, humility is the teacher who helps me understand the full extent of my own personal fallibility. The vast expanse of my ignorance and the limits of my own personal understanding have never been as clear to me as my boundless arrogance. How it comes about for others is an assertion from which I must abstain. How it came about to me was through pain. Suffering for boundless arrogance that led me down intractable roads a rational, discerning man would have the intelligence to avoid. Choices swiftly retracted if the silent dictator setting the pace of the sun allowed, but sadly, it never does. Every day ends in darkness only to be born again in light, a cycle that repeats itself daily as part of the existential human plight. The audacious life of yesterday, once lived in bright bold steps, exacted a price still unpaid, in days and nights of much unrest.

These thoughts besieged my mind and dispirited there I was, considering the meaning of yesterday, if only to contextualize today´s applause. A great musician paid an unexpected visit to my town, and my brother secured tickets for the show. An unforgettable experience that helped me overcome an emotional plateau, reminding me of yesterday, proving those days were not so old, proving the life lived today could be just as equally bold. His name is Paul McCartney, a musical legend deservedly lauded only in song, for no other form of praise would do justice to a lifelong star, whose brightness still burns so blindingly strong. As a Lennon fan, I once disputed his role in the world´s greatest band, but only to be proven so humiliatingly wrong. He now commands all my respect, as a legend who has grown only to remain forever young. Despite the unbearable heat, and the weight of a hectic week, he never once succumbed before the hardships of playing in an impoverished town, travelling great distances to meet fans unaccustomed to entertaining a guest so renowned.

That day the dismal fate of the Rohingya was reverberating in my mind, as I considered how the international community could to such a great tragedy remain so blind. Much to my surprise, Paul McCartney himself spoke repeatedly of human rights, proving that my concern was also shared at great heights. The question of why some are born to sweet delight, while others face endless night remained unanswered. The disease William Blake once exposed remained an uncured cancer, eating away the daily life of populations so utterly defenseless. I had previously considered not attending the show, for fear that guilt and shame would overshadow a night incapable of being set aglow, forsaking a magical experience that I may never again have a chance to know. But in my hour of darkness, my mother came to me, suggesting that this opportunity be used to harness hope, finding in music a small needed measure of solace for my soul. This was a decision that only joy brought to me, for it briefly reminded me of days once lived so carefree, a yesterday still alive inside of me.

For the vitality of this man truly confounded my mind. He was as vivacious as humble, proving that great riches and fame did not excuse one from being kind. Pamphlets distributed before the show defended animal rights, words spoken throughout the show defended human rights. He even dedicated “Blackbird” as a special song in defense of this cause, a message that should give to the rulers of China a reason for pause. He always took the time to speak with the audience, explaining the meaning of songs, not written simply to fill a glorious silence, but to convey an emotional depth so movingly strong. His music was his life distilled into musical notes and lyrics, whose amalgamation was a song, bearing of all memories the dearest, carrying feelings of a lifelong story so sincerely disclosed.

Great respect was shown for his fallen brothers, who had accompanied him in life, taking the time to remember John in ways that would have honored his surviving wife. George was also remembered, but so heartfelt was his song, that a guitar that once wept, only smiles elicited from the throng. His deceased wife was also honored, as was his current one, he used his music to glorify his love for others, those who accompanied him in a race that still remains to be won. The musicians of his band, all incredibly talented in their own right, were each called to the spotlight not once, but twice. What amazed me completely was the versatility displayed, for the piano, the guitar, the base and ukulele were all instruments Paul McCartney played. All with the same amazing skill, always brazenly unafraid. Music was not a profession; it was his life, the songs of yesterday and the lyrics of today.

Of all the songs played, no favorites in my memory stayed. All were so beautifully crafted, the musical sound of love has to this very day in my heart lasted, finding a welcoming abode where they will forever be remembered, for the road before me still remains beset by obstacles and enemies who never surrendered. Throughout his brief appearance during a starry night, no other star was allowed to shine so bright. This young man in body and soul taught me that it is possible to age, but never grow old. The power of music and the meaning of love are married in lyrics, harmonies, melodies, in songs. This is a tale of yesterday meant for today; so that I may never forget that no present ever arrives to stay. I must listen to yesterday, while speaking for today, so that the future may answer my calling... for a brand new day.

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