My song today is ‘Play Me’. This song was recorded in 1972 by Neil Diamond from his album ‘Moods’. Released as a single in May 1972, ‘Play Me’ peaked at Number 11 in the United States. It was listed by ‘Billboard’ as Number 27 of Diamond’s songs.
This pop-rock song was widely praised by critics and musicians. It is among the top ten favourite songs of American writer and critic David Wild. Wild was especially fond of the lines "You are the sun, I am the moon, / You are the words, I am the tune, / Play me.’ Other writers have also cited those lines from the song as the words that stick in one’s mind after listening.
In Neil Diamond’s meaning of 'play me’, he is essentially saying that we add to each other to make music together, to make one loving body. Together, we are everything but without each other, we are an unfinished song.’
I always feel that anyone in this world who requires the love of another to validate their own existence and purpose in life is lacking in self-love.. They are missing out on the contents of an unopened treasure box, which cannot be benefited from until that loving relationship has ended in the death of one of them. However strange it may appear, one can love their partner ‘too much’ and themselves ‘too little’ in order to benefit from the growth of both people fully in the relationship. To fall into this common trap within a happy marriage is to become too practically and emotionally dependent upon the presence of the other person in your life, that without them, not only has their life come to an end but so has yours!
For more years of your marriage, you have told them and the world, and more importantly yourself, that you cannot live without them when they die. To tell oneself this untruth for year upon year is to begin a harmful and self-fulfilling prophecy that shall surely come to pass when your loving partner dies and you have to live without them. It will only be then, in the worse moments of your bereavement, that your body will punish you for your repeated illogical self-talk. Having told yourself so often that you cannot live without them, and that you will be robbed of all meaningful purpose, your and body starts to die (thereby following your repeated instructions over the years) when they have left you bereaved. You feel like you are going insane, and your emotions are all over the place, robbing you of any future happiness. You wonder why this is happening to you? It is because for decades you have self-hypnotised yourself for it to happen when your loving partner dies. The sad irony is that this unnecessary condition is rooted in ‘misguided love’. Your misguided love is a love that is genuine in every way except one, loving your partner ‘too much’, and not loving yourself enough. Telling yourself another untruth that you shall not be able to manage without their love and support that you have grown too dependent on.
By the time you are left bereaved, you have already brought about a self-fulfilling prophecy. Having impounded this lie into your self-talk for most years of your happy marriage, the bereaved partner’s body starts to break down and begin the ‘dying process’ in accordance with their advanced mental instruction. Mutual dependency within a loving relationship is healthy and safeguards the future of each party whoever dies first. But, however much you love your partner, to become wholly dependent on their presence alongside you is most unwise.
When relationships are healthy and loving, they make the surviving bereaved partner a stronger individual for their experience, and not weaker. One of the stories I once wrote, which Nelson Mandela phoned me up in my home in the year 2000 to praise is called ‘The Valley of the Two Oaks’. Here is a shorthand, potted version of its central message
’The Valley of TheTwo Tall Oaks'
Once there were two oak trees that had started living together and stood alongside each other, like a loving couple. When they were first planted in a union, the two oaks were positioned twenty metres apart, allowing them during their earlier marital years to grow closer and more loving day by day, while also allowing themselves their own space. The two oak trees acted as Guardian Angels to the entrance of the village of African natives they protected. In time the two oaks became so respected by the villagers that individuals would sit beneath their branches and tell the two oaks what kind of day they had experienced, along with both good news that pleased them and bad news which saddened them. They spoke about all manner of topics that may have excited or worried them, just like children might do with loving parents at the end of the day. Having the two oak trees as the entrance to their village provided the villagers with a constant source of security. The villagers knew that as long as the two oak trees protected them, nothing bad could touch them. Should any villager, during the middle of the night, wake up having had a bad dream, they would automatically look towards the two oak trees at the village entrance, and instantly fall back asleep reassured that they were safe.
In time, the two oaks became the village meeting place where the elders would discuss their business. The two oaks became regarded as standing on holy ground where families would gather and celebrate the birth of a newborn babe and give the child its Christian name. The name of the child would be inscribed on the bark of the tree, leaving sufficient space beneath it to add their marriage dates, parental details, and the date they died. Other family and social functions would include village wedding celebrations, coming of age ceremonies, times of communal prayer. As every fifty years passed by, and one family generation gave way to the next generation, the more dependent the villagers came to rely on the constant presence of the two oaks. Generation after generation, the two oaks grew taller and taller until they became commonly known as the ‘Two Tall Oaks’. With the passing of time, the Two Tall Oaks grew taller and closer to each other, until the day came when the two trees were able to hold hands with their uppermost branches, forming a splendid arch to the village beyond.
For over two hundred years the Two Tall Oaks grew taller and ever more magnificent in splendid isolation. From their tallest branches, the Two Tall Oaks could look out toward the rest of Africa and see its numerous warring tribes across the wide desert. These warring tribes lived a daily existence of starvation, pestilence, warfare and strife.
When the Two Tall Oaks were at their happiness, they were struck by bolts of lightning from the violent sky above as an earthquake began to rumble beneath the ground that shook them to their very being. The earthquake lasted for five hours and resulted in destroying most of the village huts and killing half of their village occupants. When the frightened villagers eventually left their huts that still stood and witnessed the human carnage that the earthquake caused, they were shocked to the core. Then, as they looked towards the Two Tall Oak Trees, and saw the only one left standing with the other tree laid prostrate on the ground, they gasped in horror.
As can be expected, the earthquake had led to mass bereavement in the village. The dead were buried, crops were resown and a gradual resemblance of normal life returned to the village surface. As village life carried on during the months ahead, whenever the villagers looked at the Tall Oak which had lost its partner, the tree was a sorry sight to behold. The volcanic eruption had rocked it to its roots, leaving it severely fragile and capable of being blown down in the next fierce gale that came through the valley. Most of its branches were broken and twisted in angriness, and the tree was in an emotional breakdown, physical distress, and severe mental anguish.
The villagers felt more insecure and uncertain about their future than they had ever felt as the remaining tall oak looked to be lost and stranded in the deep remorse of its own bereavement. It had never once imagined being without its lifelong soulmate. The remaining oak would look down at the ground where its mate had been struck down and felled at the height of their happiness, and it became sour. The overall bereavement had left a bitter taste in the mouth of the tall oak. It was a sour taste, too rank and raw ever to be sweetened again, and it possessed a sadness of a depth that was unimaginable.
Over the months and the immediate years that followed, something started to happen to the surviving oak tree. Being without the intertwining roots of its mate, it found it had more room to grow, and it gradually started to extend its roots and to take advantage of the additional soil nutrients that the absence of its lifelong mate now provided. In a matter of time, the tall oak tree grew even taller, wider, and looked even more magnificent than it had ever looked. It spread its roots ever deeper in the new space around it and ever wider until they intertwined with its nearest neighbour. Having stood alone, it learned that the tragic experience of the storm which had traumatised and shaken it to its very foundation had also held the capacity to make the surviving tree stronger through its overall experience during any testing period ahead.
In time, the villagers saw that instead of being weakened after losing their life-long partner, the tall oak tree had taken the additional nourishment it could from the ground beneath, and had learned how to benefit from the loss of its partner and their combined strength as lifetime partners.
This is a potted version of the story that President Nelson Mandela praised when he phoned me at my home in 2000. The call was a three-way link between Nelson Mandela, the Home Office, and me, and lasted mere minutes. It heartened me enormously that the most famous and most loved person in the world had read my book, had liked it, and had bothered to have the African Home Office phone the British Home Office, who phoned me and enabled Nelson Mandela and myself to have a brief chat. Mr. Mandela was a polite and softly spoken man who told me he had enjoyed reading my ‘wonderful story’. Shortly after this momentous phone call in my life, ‘News 24’ picked up on the story, and as they say, the rest is history. By t5recording the news item, the international news channel eventually led to me working with 64 schools and the Jamaican Minister for Education and Youth Culture, for the following three years in a transatlantic Pen-Pal Project.
The original story is naturally more extensive and is called ‘The Valley of the two Tall Oaks’. It is sold independently from www.amazon.com in either e-book format or hard copy. This story can also be found in a book of three stories called ‘The Afro-Indian Dream Trilogy’, obtainable from any reputable e-mail publisher. All profits are given to charitable causes in perpetuity (over £200,000 given to charitable causes between 1990 and 2002).
Love and peace Bill xxx