Tuesday, December 09, 2003
POSTCARD FROM YOKO
This lovely little card arrived in my Christmas post in late December , 1987. I wrote a Christmas note to Yoko again on just an impulse. Celebrity is a strange phenomenon and you would expect a distinction between the public and the private person and there is always a danger that a person confuses the two. You can't know the person in one way, but sometimes you may feel an affinity with that person and an empathy and as long as you are sensitive about it, I can't see any harm in communicating your feelings to them, regardless of whether they have the inclination or indeed time, to respond. This lady took the time, and at that time in my life I really appreciated it
I know that Yoko Ono is a real person and a lot of nonsense has been written about her. A lot of the negative stuff, the ridicule back then was simply racist. The tag that she was "the woman who broke up the Beatles" is the biggest non- sense.
That is part of our " blame culture". It is the same trumpeting when, say a marriage ends. It is "someone's else's fault" , but yet these issues are far more complex and many people leave unhappy marriages, get divorced still simplistically blaming the other and denying their own responsibility. Things just don't stay the same in the real world. People grow and move on, sometimes moving closer together; sometimes moving further away. My marriage ended because the person I married was unable to love me and of being anyone else but herself. Since I was bound to be myself as well, and there was an irresolvable conflict of interest and personality we were "married" on paper only. She met someone else she could love, who fulfilled her expectations in a way that would have been impossible for me to do, no matter how long I worked at it. Now I completely accept that. No-one is to blame. It just happened that way so I got on with my life and started again.
"Woman" was a favourite John Lennon song of mine and I told her why. Looking back reflecting on the note I wrote, I knew very well that John went through some Janov " Primal Scream " therapy and was quite public about the way he dealt with the baggage of his early life.
Janov turned Freud upside down and came up with what was for me a more credible version of the way human personality is moulded and the impact that parenting has on children and their perception of themselves. He also came up with a more down to earth version of Freud's "Id, Ego,and Super-Ego" defining personality in terms of the inner struggle between the "child, adult and parent" in you. The theory goes that you are very probably born a natural and uncomplicated person, and that, from a very early age, you are extremely vulnerable to the distortions placed on that precious thing, your self, by the conflict between your desires and how they are fulfilled.
He seems to see problems growing from just one significant event that is traumatic, but which you do not, as a very young child, have the reasoning capacity to explain and thus you develop baggage, and then, according to Janov, your life becomes an unnatural , neurotic struggle to resolve the conflict, whose root you may not actually understand. Very often you see this manifested in people yearning for a fulfilling relationship but yet carrying with them , from childhood, unrealistic expectations that have little chance of being satisfied with an adult partner. Few parents allow kids to be themselves and hence the Therapy industry does a booming trade helping people to become themselves and comfortable with it.
I guess you could explain it thus. A little kid wakes up during the night , maybe had a bad dream and screams out for a parent to make it better. The exhausted parent stuffs a dummy in the babies cot and maybe a Teddy Bear. This somehow trains the developing child to accept substitutes for what they actually wanted; to be held and comforted . But even at that age the kid can distinguish between what they wanted and what they actually got. Hence , in later life, they may start relationships that go someway to meet their physical needs but actually, the little child in them wants unconditional love.
In this theory of personality, I see the "parent" as the enemy within, the destructive voice that says "you can't do that; you should do this". The "parent" is the voice of social convention and typically, people governed by this feature are control freaks. You can't get close to them and certainly, the "child" in you isn't safe with them. People need to grow and find a balance between the child and adult within them. People who can do this take responsibility for themselves, are themselves and don't blame their upbringing or make excuses. They are the natural , unspoiled people who get on with the business of life without looking back and burdened with all those "what if's".
I imagine that the wonderful line John wrote ( for Yoko) " Woman, I know you understand, the little child inside the man" echoes the vocabulary of Janov-based therapy he underwent and it must have helped him realise how precious Yoko was to him, not as some sort of mother figure, but as a cherished soul mate. It's cruel that, having finally laid his horrific ghosts of the past, and found happiness and fulfilment, some crazy, with still to be resolved conflicts , murdered him.
The final irony, looking again at Yoko's card today , is the realisation that, at the time I wrote to her, I felt instinctively that the childlike innocence that compelled me to write would not be dished by her and it was safe to be "me". This in contrast to the person who was my actual partner at that time, a more complex person who actually held my "child" in contempt, and indeed, one memorable night, by an Italian lake actually told me after drinking too much ( being with the wrong man on that holiday).In hindsight, I was responsible for an error of judgement back then, on-one else. I guess I played "hurt child" long enough but eventually became an adult, around the age of 51 !
Recently, Yoko wrote these words :-
"The shortest distance between two points is our desire and our unwavering belief - remember we are all water in the same ocean." And yes, I know she means this and indeed we all have to contend with diappointment and grief , celebrity or not. Surely having someone so special violently taken away from you leaves a scar that never heals and around that anniversary and Christmas too, there must be such bitter sweet moments to suffer again. Here's hoping Yoko and Sean have a wonderful Christmas.
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