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engaging Outcomes

by | Feb 1, 2021 | Cat Stevens, engage, Outcomes

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Growing up short, I always had tall friends.  Subconsciously, it seemed that I was attracted to them – and also those that were older.  Since everyone was, I was not particularly tied into a specific “class” and found myself actually more aligned with the class even ahead of mine.  So it was not surprising that as I engaged in Debate class in the second half of 10th grade my “mentor” was John – a tall, thin Senior.  And our hair became a thing – he had to cut his to be less than shoulder length… and I had to grow mine out to be at least over my ears 😉

We hear a lot about Outcomes these days, and one of the reasons I wanted to write about Cat is his career has a lot of ups and downs.  As you saw in the Decisions of last week, he was once again on the upswing, and yet, by the end of this week, we will see that Outcomes will take a very different tack in his life.  It is rare that the soundtrack of the music and my life sync up so completely, and I remember these albums coming out, and hearing some deep meanings that were obvious… at least to me…

Teaser and the Firecat was Cat’s next album, and similarly featured his artwork on the cover. Almost exactly a year after Tea for the Tillerman, this album continued to show the songwriting and production skills that now had him regularly selling out concerts around the globe.  It ranked as the number 3 album in the UK and the US, and the album of the year in Australia.  It also was the title of a children’s book of the same title that featured the story of the main characters trying to put the moon back up in the sky after it had fallen down.

The track for today was to be Cat’s first top 10 hit in the US… and ironically came to him while riding on a train in London, thinking about Alfred Hitchcock.  What Al had to do with Peace is hard to discern, but much has been written about this song both in that era and since.  For today, this is a comment he made in 2006 during the Iraq war “Peace Train is a song I wrote, the message of which continues to breeze thunderously through the hearts of millions.  There is a powerful need for people to feel that gust of hope rise up again.”

John’s Dad was a prominent local Judge, and very well respected in the power legal community that in East Texas.  His long hair and general protest stance did not sit easily with either his family or that community in the early ‘70s.  But he was a crackerjack debater, winning tournaments regularly.  Before I could technically compete, I would go and observe him, and the speed at which he could talk was just amazing… laying out complex arguments quickly, efficiently, and with an engaging style.  I picked up a lot of his mannerisms and became a 2nd Negative mostly because John showed me how much fun it could be to disassemble people’s plans.

…and I can only imagine the pressure it put on John to not only be the son of a Judge, but also to be expected to go into the “family” business starting out here in High School.  We are all following paths that were created for us in one way or another… and looking back often we can see where Outcomes could be changed – and I find it most helpful to focus that energy on … ourselves.  We are here now… and we got here mostly through Decisions reflected on last week…and if there are gaps between where we are now and where we want to be, I believe it is up to us to start the work.  If you really want to be the change that everyone claims they want to be, that will not be the person that got you here… it needs to be the person that is needed out there… In the future.  A future that will require each of us to Heal, and also to somehow work together towards… what?

As we engage this week, I picked this song because of its invitation, and also for the major/upbeat key for most of the song.  We can find a lot of things to complain about, and many areas where Outcomes where our disagreements remain… and the positive energy of change is what I hope will become more contagious.  It is subtle, and like many of the songs that Cat crafted in this era, it hooks you with simplicity.  Get your bags together, Go bring your good friends, too ‘Cause it’s getting nearer, It soon will be with you.  Peace Train, getting stronger.

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