Friday, December 21, 2018

The George Bailey Principle #OurAuthorGang

The George Bailey Principle  

Joe Bonadonna

Can We Go Home Again? 
A Personal Reflection

It being so close to Christmas, I thought this personal observation from my own experience would be appropriate.

I think most people are familiar with Frank Capra's classic film, It's A Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart and Donna Reed, whether they've seen the film or not. It's not really a Christmas film, per se, nor is it a film about Christmas, although the climax, the denouement, takes place on Christmas Eve. The film is really all about how each person's life impacts so many other lives. It's about how one human being, one small, ordinary man or woman can can change the lives of everyone with whom they come into contact. Pretty simple idea, isn't it? And many of the film's detractors point that out, as well as the schmaltz and the so-called "cornball sentimentality" of the film. But that's what the film is all about: good old-fashioned values, like the importance of family and friendships, and helping one's neighbors. It's about something we are losing in today's world, maybe we've already lost. Sure, the film is a Hollywood film, and a Christian film, to boot. But none of that should get in the way of the obvious, what the film is trying to teach, trying to explore. Anyway, I'm not here to discuss the flaws and merits of the film, and it has plenty of each. No, I want to ask each of you a question.

For me, this is a very personal "blog," and I hope it makes sense to you. I'm just sitting here typing what I think and feel, with no outline, nothing sketched out. I'm winging it here, and parts of it may come off as confusing. Just go with the flow, as I am. This is more like stream-of-consciousness writing than planned out like a novel or short story.

So let me ask you.....

Do you know, have you seen, and have you experienced how the lives of your friends and families would be so different, had you not been born or had not been there for them at a certain place and time in their lives? Well, I've seen this and have experienced it. Now, do you understand, do you know the reasons why certain friendships or romances have ended or are coming to an end, even after decades? I do. Do you know, do you understand the reasons why you have become involved ... in new friendships or romances? At times, I do. And finally, do you know, do you understand the reasons why you may have been reunited with old friends and even old loves, and how coming back into their lives may have helped or changed their own lives in some way? Lately I've been reflecting on the past, looking back on the people I've known, the friendships I've had, and I saw not only how knowing them changed my life, but how my life changed theirs. 

For instance, if I had never met my best friend Charly, I know my life would be very different than it is now. His life probably would be vastly different, too. His oldest son, my godson, and his younger brother might not have ever been born because I played a role in my friend meeting his first wife, and then became best man at their wedding and godfather to their first born. And had I never met Charly, with whom I went on this fantastic musical journey for 14 years, I might have become a casualty of drugs or violence as did so many of the guys I grew up with and was hanging out with at the time he and I met. So I always say, Charly, music and our guitars not only saved my life, they changed my life, too.

Now, let's take a look at my writing. If I hadn't crossed paths with certain people, none of that would have happened: no books or stories written, much less published. What I've accomplished is all the result of the people who have entered my life, and I can also see how my life has affected other people's lives, just by me being there, by meeting them. I'm beginning to see the impact I have and have had on many of the people I know or have known. I have "seen" not only what my life would have been like, would be like today, had so many people I've encountered and gotten to know never entered my life, no matter how long or brief their stay. And like George Bailey (although in nothing as dramatic as his revelation), I've seen how the lives of so many people I know would have been affected had I never met them, had I never been born. This is all part of what I call The George Bailey Principle. Examine your own life, and you'll see it all, too. 

Let me offer you a piece of advice. 

Thomas Wolfe wrote a novel called You Can't Go Home Again. Well, in a lot of cases, that's true. In my case, I got to "go home again" about 8 years ago. At first it was all nice and sweet and wonderful. But as time went on I realized that so many childhood friends had not changed, had not grown, had not left "the hood," so to speak, and never really made many friends beyond those with whom they had grown up. Now, I had been away for about 40 years and had many adventures and experiences, both good and bad. Music, books, writing, schools, jobs I had, places I traveled, people I met and became friends with over the years, and so much more . . . all had a greater impact on my life than my childhood years ever had. I changed in so many ways. Sadly, what I had hoped for with a gal I was crazy about from 1976 to 1982 didn't turn out to be what I'd hoped it would be when we reunited in 2010. So for me, going home again wasn't always the best of experiences. Either things and people have changed and you really don't fit in anymore, or you've changed and the result is the same. So....

Sometimes we really can't go home again.

But sometimes we can.

What I've learned by going "back home again" is this: Just take the lessons you learned growing up, take the good memories with you, the memories of how people affected your life and how you affected theirs, and then just keep moving forward, seeking new adventures, seeking new experiences, and always trying new things. However, there will always be that one very special friend who will stick with you through thick and thin, the one person who has never turned their back on you when things got tough or when you went astray. Celebrate that friendship. embrace that friend and never let them go. 

Yes, I've had a wonderful life. My grade school years were magic and I remember those years, those kids, those nuns and teacher with great fondness. The years 1957 to 1966 were beautiful. As for high school . . . except for playing in rock and roll bands, those were pretty miserable years for me, what with all the drinking, drugs and fighting. I was a mess. I was very unhappy. I was self-destructive. But thanks to my parents and my family, I managed to survive. By 1969 or 1970, when I met my best friend, things began to change for the better. I found myself, found my talents and a path to follow. I started to be happy again for the first time since grade school. I felt better about myself and began to see the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. 

Life is still good. It has its up and down, and we all experience those. But it has been a rather remarkable, exciting, adventurous and wonderful life. I even hope to one day be as happy as I was in children and early manhood. But it is fun to sit back and reflect, to think about all the friendship you've had over the years and discover how you affected the lives of those people, and how their lives affected your own.

Thanks for listening to me ramble on about self-reflection.

My Amazon page: Here

Bonadonna's Bookshelf on Facebook: Here

Film clips from It's A Wonderful Life courtesy of YouTube.