Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Someone Saved My Life Tonight

During my Elton John years back in the seventies the song Someone Saved my Life Tonight was one of my favorite Elton John songs. I am not sure why. I don't remember being rescued from anything in particularly, but perhaps I wanted to be rescued from something that is now buried deep in my subconscious... or... maybe I just liked the beat and the rhythm...Who knows?...On a more serious note...As I look back on my life I can think about numerous occasions where I felt like someone saved my life in the sense that they contributed to my life in a meaningful way and I would like to acknowledge some of the people and briefly describe some of the "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" moments.

1. Summers at my aunt's house: When I was young my mom would ship me off to spend a month or so with my aunt who had two sons my age. The summers spent with my aunt and her family were some of my fondest memories of my childhood. I remember my aunt hauling my cousins and I all over the place. She took us to the beach, the Egyptian Museum in San Jose, and to Happy Hollow children's park where my cousin's and I would ride the Happy Hollow train around the park. I also remember trips to the Planetarium and our trips to Candlestick Park where I once, "almost" caught a Henry Aaron home run in extra innings while sitting in left field freezing my buns off. The ball actually ricocheted off one of the seats in the row in front of me and bounced over my head where a gang of kids fought over the ball. Spending summers with my aunt and her family exposed me to a lot of things I would have never been exposed. My own family didn't have much money to spend on entertainment and Bakersfield is not exactly a travel destination hot spot.

2. My best friends mom and family:
When my father died during seventh grade our family went through some really, really, tough times and my best friend's family kind of took me under their wing and helped me in a lot of different ways. My friend's dad helped me join the boy scouts and took me to all the meetings and camp-outs and they also paid for me to go to Boy Scout camp during the summer. But, one of the things I remember most was my friend's dad attempt to tell me about the birds and the bees. I guess he figured since I didn't have a father someone needed to teach me about one of the most exhilarating but tempting experiences in life. The whole event which probably didn't last more than fifteen minutes was hilarious. As I sat quietly in his late 1950 pick-up truck I can remember him admonishing me to never let a girl touch my family jewels because if I ever did there was no turning back. At the time I wasn't exactly sure what he meant but apparently it had a profound effect on me because I never did let a woman touch the family jewels until I was married. My friends mom also helped me tremendously during my high school years. She worked at the same high school I attended and she helped me get a job working at the student store during the school year and during the summer I worked full time as a janitor's assistant. I can't tell you how much this helped me and my family. After my father died our family lived on government assistance and we didn't own a car but by my senior year I had saved enough money to buy a car and I don't remember feeling particularly deprived during high school because I always had some money. My jobs during high school also helped to develop a work ethic at a young age and it kept me from getting into the kind of trouble a lot of friends seemed to get into on a regular basis.

3. Bible College Mentor:
While attending Bible College back in the early eighties I was assigned a mentor professor. We would meet once a week and talk about anything and everything. During this time I felt comfortable and safe to open up and share some things about my life that I had felt deeply ashamed about and had kept secret for years. While his advise wasn't particularly helpful at times his patience, acceptance, and willingness to not be judgmental was critical in helping lay the groundwork for me to accept myself in the following years. And, it taught me the value of intimacy and allowing oneself to be vulnerable to another human being.

4. Numerous teachers and authors:
During the first ten years after my conversion to Christianity I became entrenched in the pietistic/ fundamentalist subculture. I was very legalistic, dogmatic, and as one of my non Christian friends put it, I was so heavenly minded that I was no earthly good. But thank God, that all turned around in the late eighties and nineties as I became exposed to a series of Christian and non Christian profs and authors who taught me that all of life is spiritual... and... inspired me to learn about culture, the arts, philosophy, theology, psychology, mythology, and a host of other ologies...and...because I had been exposed to so little as a child I was like a sponge at a time in life when I think most people my age were just interested in finishing college and getting a job.

To this day I still enjoy listening to Elton John's song Someone Saved my Life Tonight and when I hear the song I think of all the people who helped contribute to the rich life I feel I have lived...


Kansas Bob said...

Great stories Bill ... I too have great memories of spending time with my aunt and uncle ... but this was worth the read ...

"all of life is spiritual"

... thanks for reminding me Bill ... it is helpful and freeing to remember that real life isn't just found in religious activity ... did I say that?

Bilbo said...

Hi Bob,

I hobnobbed with the Reformed crowd for years and they were real big on "all of life is spiritual" and I now feel this was one of the most important contributions to my life from the Christian subculture. It "literally" revolutionized and inspired me to become the kind of Christian I am today.

Dave said...

I enjoyed reading these reminiscences, Bilbo. They got me thinking of similar stages and transitions that I went through. The "family jewels" anecdote got me chuckling... oh how we agonize over how to talk about that stuff! Who got us so hung up about sex in the first place?

As for Elton John songs... I always wondered who was this "Sugar Bear" that he was singing about? I remember Sugar Bear the breakfast cereal mascot, back when they called it Super Sugar Crisp instead of "Golden Crisp" after Sugar became a bad word to put on food labels. Somehow I don't think they were talking about THAT Sugar Bear. SSMLT is a great song, but if I had to pick only one from that era, I'd go with "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me." Glad we don't have to choose one or the other though!