(Think ‘70s Outlaw Country and the big hits between 1988 and 1995.) I grew up in South Georgia, and the songs on my country list were like a constant fog in the background. Like it or not, songs become part of your existence.
The “My Life” list is the soundtrack of my memories, the good and the bad. Every song creates a vivid snapshot or starts a mental movie reel for me. When I hear “The Queen is Dead,” I am transported to the Smith’s bin at Turtle’s Records at the Albany Mall. When “Don’t Go Back to Rockville” plays, I think of looking through a mail order T-shirt catalog called Burning Airlines, hoping to find an R.E.M t-shirt that was not from the Green world tour.
When Tom Petty died last week, I scrolled through my playlist for his music. I love most of Tom Petty’s work, but only four songs made my personal cut, including “I Won’t Back Down.” You might have heard it. The song is now an anthem that is often played after tough, tragic times (9/11 and the recent Las Vegas massacre.) You likely know the lyrics.
“And I won't back down
(I won't back down)
Hey, baby, there ain't no easy way out
(I won't back down)
Hey, I will stand my ground
And I won't back down
Well I know what's right
I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin' me around
But I'll stand my ground.”
Clearly, the song reflects a few of our life skills. Tom sings about personal integrity, perseverance, and taking responsibility. But, what impacts me is the idea of knowing and standing your ground. I’m about to be 43. I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to understand and identify my ground. To this point my ground consists of a few core beliefs. Be kind to animals. Work Hard, do your best. Help kids.
You’re (the students) at an age where your ground is becoming clearer. You’re starting to know your core beliefs. You 8th graders are about to head to high school, and your ground will be challenged. I’m guessing that many of you have already had to stand your ground or you have had your ground shaken.
Our job (the adults) is to help you figure out your ground. Obviously, we have strong feelings about what is right. Our views are summed up in the Community Pledge and in the Golden Rule. But, ultimately, you have to choose your own ground and decide when to take a stand, especially when “the world is pushing you around.”
Have a good week,