The other day my friend Abigail sent round an email that brought me back to my teenage years. She said she'd been having a heavy day, and somehow thought to listen to the Beatles' White Album. I remember when that came out, in 1968; I was thirteen, it was given to me as a birthday gift, and I must have listened to it about a thousand times the first week I got it.

Abby got to the song Dear Prudence, and listened through, feeling as if she hadn't heard it in many years--I mean, really heard it, as she said. She hit Replay, and then Replay, and then....within a day the song became a mantra for her.

I did the same, listened to Dear Prudence, and read the words too, and I must say, I see, or rather hear, exactly what she means. Of course I had to go online, find my favorite YouTube link, deliver a bit of research for you:

The song is about actress Mia Farrow's sister, Prudence, who was present when the Beatles visited Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India. Prudence, focused on meditation, stayed in her room for the majority of their stay. Lennon, who was worried that she was depressed, wrote this song for her, inviting her to "come out to play". While the Beatles left the course, Mia, Prudence, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, and others, stayed and became Transcendental Meditation (or TM) teachers. Prudence now teaches elementary school along with her husband, and they both still practice TM, and advanced versions of it, and may still teach TM.

Well, there's something about the idea of going out to play that is fundamental to our sense of well-being and happiness...It is kind of strange to think the song was written out of a worry that Prudence was depressed, and there she was, learning a meditation technique that has been shown to help counteract depression--and of course I have no idea whether or not the actual Prudence was suffering, or simply sensible. No matter: this song sure does lift away the blues.

"Dear Prudence"
Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?
Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day
The sun is up, the sky is blue
It's beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?
Dear Prudence, open up your eyes
Dear Prudence, see the sunny skies
The wind is low, the birds will sing
That you are part of everything
Dear Prudence, won't you open up your eyes?
Look around round
Look around round round
Look around
Dear Prudence, let me see you smile
Dear Prudence, like a little child
The clouds will be a daisy chain
So let me see you smile again
Dear Prudence, won't you let me see you smile?
Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?
Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day
The sun is up, the sky is blue
It's beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?

We all knew how to play when we were kids--even when we were teenagers. We all still know how to play, of course: how to remember that the sky is blue, but we forget to do it. Or worse, we don't give ourselves permission to play. Permission to spin dizzily and watch the colors of the world swirl around us, to skip, to sing out loud, to whistle, to kick leaves, to lie down on the ground, to let our minds wander into happy fantasy...My happiest moments happen when I connect with what it felt like to be a little girl, playing house, or lost in a book, or at the piano, or looking at the darkly glittering, starry night sky.

I spent a day this week reading the latest news from the climate front, and after five hours of it, I felt the sky was falling. I got up from the computer, meaning to take a walk, and twenty minutes later realized I was walking back and forth and in circles in my living room. I kept forgetting things: when I had my socks on, I couldn't find my shoes. I put my shoes on, but then had to take them off (not wanting to track sand into the house) to go get my hat; got my hat, got my shoes on, forgot my glasses; forgot to take off the shoes, tracked sand into the kitchen looking for the sunscreen...you know the drill. The very ceiling was oppressive. I finally simply took myself by the shoulders and said Get Out! And by the time I had walked a mile, humming, my dear prudent but very uptight self had loosened her limbs and breathed deeply of the salt air. I remembered a bit of beach graffiti I had photographed earlier in the fall--and in looking for it stumbled upon the irresistible baby playing at the edge of the sea. The beach tends to bring out the poetry in everyone. "Wonder", carved into the sand; now long gone, but the wonder is the eternal return of wonder.

I asked recently about hope, and one comment from PVE Design came back as a list:

Blue Skies
Fresh Water
Bouncing Babies
Silent snowfalls
Musical chairs
Falling leaves
Resilient people
Working hard
Creating small works
Joining hands
full of Hope~
that is how I remain hopeful!

Great idea. Musical chairs! I hadn't thought about that in ages--perhaps we'll play it over Thanksgiving. I'm going to start a list of all the things that give me hope--and bring joy to others. Of course, I'll also have to start a list of things that drive me crazy. But I'll be playful about it, I promise.


Lindsey said...

What a marvelous post, and images. The beach brings out the poetry in everyone ... what a truth, and beautifully put. I'd be eager to read your list of thoughts on things that bring hope and joy. xox

SweetRetreat said...

Dominique, perhaps you worry too much about climate change and associated fears. We can only do so much as individuals. Life is so short. I do what I can for the environment but not to the point where it affects my joy of life.

Perhaps time to re-read a few chapters of Slow Love Life (-: Restorative reading.

quintessence said...

LOVE this post!! For so many reasons! Firstly - who knew? Certainly not I - so that's my "something new" I learned today - about the history of the song. Secondly - I thank you for always making me laugh - ie -first the shoes, then the glasses etc. And lastly - what an important aspect of life play is - I rejoiced yesterday when my 10 year old tech savvy daughter brought me outside to show me the fairy castle she had made with our neighbors under our pine tree - magical!

Cheryl said...

Dominque, your posts make me smile, think and cheer for you. Thanks.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Edward thanks you. He has been staring a me for thirty minutes. He will look towards the open window and back at me, pointedly. Thanks to this marvelous and instructive post, I am shutting down the computer after the comment, taking his leash from its peg in the mudroom, and heading straight to the park.

Mlle Paradis said...

so much in this post, but yes i do believe in walks and getting out of our closed worlds whatever they may be.

but since you start with the beatles, everyday, several times a day this week, like millions i am looking at this picture of the Beatles on the Apple homepage. it is SO gorgeous. because of it's directness, each one of these guys are looking at the camera (at us) with such openness, gentleness, benevolence, serenity. so inviting and so reassuring at the same time.

the beatles have ALWAYS had something to say to us and it's quite astounding and wonderful to have them every day in our lives again. opening up my computer everyday, seeing their faces gazing out a me, DOES give me hope.

Thea said...

everything you need to know about life you can find in a Beatles song.

mary said...

I hadn't thought of musical chairs in years!!! What fun to play at Thanks giving with all of the G. children--even the babies can understand how to play. Even tho' I have heard "Dear Prudence" a 'million' times, I had never really listened--perfect advice for stilling the mind and listening to the oneness. Thank you for the research.

Unknown said...

Dearest Unimpeachable Mandarin;
I am an actor in theatre, TV, and movies.
I also teach Intro To Acting to Business Students at Babson College in Boston.
And I have a four-year-old.
Believe you me, I am immersed in" Let's Pretend" about 16 hours each day.
It is wonderfully easy to break the veil between the Daily Humdrum and the Lovely World of Fantasy.
Take 1 part willing courage, 2 parts imagination, and 3 parts "Who Cares What They Think Of Me", and an entirely rich world emerges.
Plenty of good days remain.
I'm grateful for you and your site.

Unknown said...

By The Way:
"Martha My Dear", a ditty about Paul's dog on his Scottish estate, is also spooky and delectable.

david terry said...

How odd....while your posting goes on to other, more expansive and predictably good things, I have to say that my first consideration was "Oh...here's the sister of Mia Farrow, who managed to marry Frank Sinatra, Andrew Previn, AND Woody Allen....and her mother would be, of course, Maureen O'sullivan ..and there's also one of the Beach boys..OH!....and there's a Beatle's 'personal' song to her.....etcetera...."

The woman's name is "Prudence"? If that were a script, it would be regarded by many people as over-written.

For better or worse, I'm the sort who (learning that Catherine Deneuve felt more than just a bit sorry for Jane Fonda, who was recently delivered of her first child by Roger Vadim, when Deneuve visited her in the maternity "receiving ward"...and lord knows where you fit in Brigette Bardot and Candy Darling?...) thinks.... "Oh, what a consummately grotesque little fishbowl these folks choose to live in. I hope the money makes it seem worthwhile...."

I'll continue to take my lessons elsewhere.....and thanks for the last paragraphs of your article, Ms. Browning.


David Terry

david terry said...

P.S....I know it's "Andre", rather than "Andrew". So, no need for carping...

---david terry

Anonymous said...

What gives me hope? Well, after reading Frank Rich today, I'd say even my foolproof ritual of pressing and mounting leaves won't even help.

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