I talk to John Lennon

I don’t remember much about applying to colleges, but I do know that this is how I began my college essay. At 17 years old the Beatles were everything to me and there were two photos of Lennon in particular that I used as my point of inspiration. One was on a poster of the Beatles circa 1965, the one with umbrellas if I remember correctly. The other was the album cover to the John Lennon Collection, or more precisely, the CD cover.

What did I talk about? Anything and everything that was on my mind. And mostly I didn’t speak out loud, but internally so that my thoughts had a direction. Instead of just ruminating to myself, I would pretend that he could hear me even if he couldn’t reply. These one-sided conversations surely helped me get through freshman year of college, at least the fall semester when everything was new and bewildering.

*****

I wrote the above yesterday, and then last night I stumbled across the late 1990s TV show Felicity on Hulu. I watched the first two episodes, and if you’re familiar with the show, then you’ll remember that a college application essay is one of the plot points. Maybe it’s a coincidence that I would choose to watch this, or it’s because I was looking for something nostalgic and all the movies I wanted to watch were on other fee-based platforms. Regardless, the show got me thinking about how I decided which college to go to.

My two options were Franklin & Marshall, where my dad works, and Moravian College, which both my parents attended. I applied to and was accepted by a third school, Goucher College, but their financial aid package wasn’t as good as the other schools. Felicity makes a very abrupt decision based on a boy she likes, and while my decision wasn’t nearly as abrupt, I remember choosing F&M at least in part because of a local band and I wanted to stick around to be able to see them perform. That band didn’t last past freshman year, or if they did, I lost interest and/or naturally found my place at school.

With rock and roll acting as a near constant guide in my life’s journey, I rarely wonder what would have happened had I chosen differently. So many of the decisions I’ve made are based on seemingly trivial references (song lyrics in particular), but in hindsight they exist to create a larger framework. Bands that break up serve as the starting point for the next one, jobs begin and end, but there’s always a thread that connects these things. What you use to make decisions doesn’t matter so much as making the decision. As my other favorite Beatle says, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

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