“Do You Know Who You Are?”

“Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No Hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Livin’ for today
Aaa haa

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too

Imagine all the people
Livin’ life in peace
Yoo hoo

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharin’ all the world
Yoo hoo

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one”

John Lennon
October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980

There are those who believe that John Lennon was asking others to imagine with him a place where things that divide people, such as politics, religion, and possessions did not exist. Perhaps John sincerely felt that his imaginary world would be a much better place. It would be a place of beauty and song.

Others believe John was being factious and cynical since the song itself is a fantasy illustrated in part by the fact that Lennon was a man of great wealth. However, he did not give up his personal possessions, or share his wealth easily, except to drug dealers to support his heroin habit. Moreover, Lennon took sole songwriter credit, but later said that his wife, Yoko Ono, should have been credited as well, as he got the initial idea from her book Grapefruit, which is a book of instructions with things like “Imagine the sky crying…” or “Imagine you’re a cloud.”

“I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho, and I sort of omitted to mention her contribution,” he told the BBC. “If it had been Bowie, I would have put Lennon-Bowie… I just put ‘Lennon’ because she’s just the wife and you don’t put her name on, right?”

On June 14, 2017, the National Music Publishers’ Association announced that Yoko would finally be added as a songwriter for “Imagine.” This took place at a ceremony where Yoko was given the Centennial, or song of the century, award for her contribution, which was followed by a Patti Smith performance of the song.

Reflecting on the actual words of the song, it is to be noted that it is easy to imagine things. Mark Twain, known mainly for his humor, wrote a serious thought about imagination in one of his short stories, “The $30,000 Bequest.”

“The castle building habit, the day-dreaming habit – how it grows! What a luxury it becomes; how we fly to its enchantments at every idle moment, how we revel in them, steep our souls in them, intoxicate ourselves with their beguiling fantasies—oh, yes, and how soon and how easily our dream-life and our material life become so intermingled and so fused together that we can’t quite tell which is which, anymore.”

Perhaps something like that happened to John Lennon. He entered into a world of imagination and never fully left it.

“You say I’m a dreamer,” wrote Lennon.

Yes, John was a dreamer and it is not hard to understand why he wanted to enter into an imaginary world through promiscuous sex, psychedelic drugs, serial partners, and the spiritual illusion of Hinduism.

“Jai guru deva om
Nothing’s gonna change my world.”

Lennon never fully knew who he was, why he was here, or where he was going.

Music consumed the greater part of his life. It brought him fame, wealth, and power, but not inner peace and happiness. Personal peace and happiness is what John wanted. It is what every thoughtful person wants.

Early in life, like the author of the book of Ecclesiastes, John set out on a frantic search for happiness. In 1957 he formed his first band, the Quarrymen, which evolved into the Beatles in 1960. But the band did not last. On April 10, 1970, Paul McCartney announced he was leaving the group. The group had stopped touring in 1966. Each former Beatle member engaged in solo projects. The frantic search for happiness continued.

Psychedelic drugs did not bring happiness, nor did various marital or sexual partners. In 1962 Lennon married Cynthia Power, but then divorced her in 1968. In 1969 Lennon married Yoko One, who was seven years his senior. The relationship was tumultuous, leading Lennon to dally with Mary Pang from July, 1973 to February 1975. Later, he would call this period of his life, “The Lost Year.” John returned to Yoko. The frantic search for happiness continued.

“You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us…”

One person who did join Lennon in a fantasy world was his murderer, Mark David Chapman. At approximately 5:00 pm on December 8, 1980, Chapman approached Lennon as he was leaving the Dakota with Yoko and an entourage. Chapman held out a copy of “Double Fantasy” and a pen. Lennon signed the album and then asked, “Is that all you want?”

For the moment the answer was, “Yeah.”

At 10:40 PM John and Yoko returned to the Dakota in a limousine. Chapman was still at the Dakota. He was listening to a voice in his head saying over and over, “Do it.”

When John was five feet from the short staircase that leads to the Dakota lobby Mark David Chapman did it. Dropping into a classic firing position he called out, “Mr. Lennon?” When John turned around Chapman opened fire with hollow point bullets from a .38 Charter Arms revolver. Lennon was hit twice in the left shoulder. He began to run and was hit twice more, both shot landing in his back, one piercing his aorta. John managed to pull himself up the stairs and push open the lobby door before collapsing. “I’m shot. I’m shot,” he is able to say.

The police arrived and placed the mortally wounded John Lennon in the patrol car. As the car sped away to Roosevelt Hospital, the driver, Officer James Moran yelled at John, “Do you know who you are?” Lennon could no longer speak. He simply nodded, “Yes.” At the hospital Lennon was pronounced DOA having lost 80 percent of his blood.

The imaginary life John Lennon longed for ended, in a very real world life experience.

“You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one”

No John, the world will never be one as long as people imagine themselves “livin for today” and not for God. “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanishes away. 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James 4:13-15).

Jesus said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:36-38).

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