Chance Encounters by William Klein

Sometimes it takes reminding that every humble life lived impacts the world in ways unknown. There’s that old line in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Clarence the angel teaches George Bailey, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

I see master artists painting people of the day, and we glean so much by seeing ourselves in them. Van Gogh painted peasants as he recognized the masterpieces of their lives etched in the lines of their faces. 

I saw a picture of Paul McCartney, Ivan Vaughan, and George Harrison dated February 6, 1958. Cool picture of the three of them standing outside in front of a row of houses. It’s a dusty black and white. Paul is taller than George who looks like he’s still growing into himself. Ivan, standing in the middle of the three of them, wearing a black suit, has a smirk on his face as if someone just told a joke and he was slightly put off. Their hair is greased back, Elvis fifties style – classic. Paul and George wearing light- colored sports coats. Three pals hanging out.  

Ivan Vaughan was the one who introduced John Lennon to Paul McCartney. No Ivan, no Beatles. Ask anyone the name “Ivan Vaughan,” and I bet nine out of ten would not be able to tell you who he is – if anyone at all.  This man was responsible for creating one of the most dynamic writing duos in the history of popular music. 

No Ivan, no Cavern, no Brian Epstein, no George Martin, no “With the Beatles — “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” no Ed Sullivan Show, no moptop haircuts, no funny Marx Brothersesque movies, no Transcendentalism and funky Indian fashion, no Revolver or Sgt. Peppers, No Day in the Life” No Beatlemania, no madness.  The world just wouldn’t be the same.

If you think you can’t make a difference in the world, consider how a chance moment might bring a little more joy to the world.  Consider how bringing people together may inspire a little magic in the world – even for just a moment.

It reminded me of the movie “Yesterday.” This movie tells the story of a guy, who experiences a cosmic disruption in a sort of time warp, and who becomes famous from playing the Beatles music. No one has ever heard of the Beatles. His conscience gets the better of him and he tells them where he got his inspiration. All is right with the world again.

I think about the music of the Fab Four. It’s the songbook of my life. I grew up with them. The 60s seemed so far away to me when I was introduced to them in the late seventies by my brother. It was a mere ten years before that that they broke up.

That music inspired so much and continues to inspire so much in my imagination. I had the pleasure of visiting Liverpool and touring Lennon and McCartney’s houses. Lennon’s aunt took him in when his mother couldn’t take care of him. His Aunt Mimi ran a boarding house and Lennon had to find places to sleep when she needed his bedroom for a boarder. It supplemented her income for a time.  As I walked through the house, I couldn’t help but think of other characters who boarded there who may have inspired Lennon to see the world in a deeper way. Maybe someone taught him a few chords. Maybe someone there opened his eyes with a picture or piece of artwork. Those inspirations were maybe buried with Lennon when a madman took his life.

I was intrigued with Vaughn’s life and researched him. I discovered that after playing in Lennon’s first band, he ended up studying classics in college and becoming a college professor. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s early onset in 1977 and died in 1993. Lennon, who remained friends with him, sent him books to help him cope with his illness.

The irony that he became a teacher was not lost on me. The man forged his identity in making connections between art and people. How many of Vaughn’s students were inspired by a man who inspired friends to see that they may have something in common, and they became the greatest songwriting duo in the history of music.

I challenge you.  Pick any artist and look for the chance encounter that changed them and revolutionized their art. What piece of advice fit into the puzzle of understanding and made that artist complete? The connection is there.

Leonardo DaVinci once said, “Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” Who inspired Leonardo DaVinci to aspire to greater heights? What inspired him to realize this wisdom?

Most importantly, what bitty thread will tie us to our own destinies and guide us to Divine comprehension and deeper thinking of what our lives meant in bringing greater illumination to the world?

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