“There is always a hand reaching out to help you but it doesn’t always come in the form of a hand. Help materialize in songs we hear on the radio, books we read, conversations we overhear in public. Messages of help and hope are all around us. We just have to look for them.” Kate J. Tate
50 years ago the Beatles came into my life and taught me how to play…and so much more. This was a time of transformation for a young boy who knew only fear and sadness…a nine year old boy whose dreams and plans were to attend West Point Academy, graduate as an officer, join the Army’s elite Rangers and then transfer to the Green Berets. My mission was simple, to learn all that I could about weapons, covert military warfare and then come back and protect children. First on my hit list were my abusive parents and their brutal friends….hard to imagine that a little boy thought this way, but that was my reality.
And then came the Beatles and my life was given meaning and inspiration to become a musician like them. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it and I cherish every single moment and experience that music and all that it entails has given to me.
Music became my life saver and it gave me the means to grow as a human being. I taught myself how to play the drums and joined the neighborhood band which soon morphed into a well oiled and finely tuned instrument – we started winning the battle of the bands contests and were performing at parties, dances and nightclubs and getting paid for it. The accolades the band received for how good we were and for my talents as a drummer gave me something I had never had before – compliments for what I could do. There was never a word of praise or acknowledgement from either of my parents for anything that I did – to receive it from others was so valuable in shaping some sense of self-worth within me. I was proud of becoming a professional musician and it helped to mask the deep held shame and self-loathing.
The band became my family and also gave me the ability and confidence to meet girls and develop friendships. I learned the value of working hard as a team and what could be accomplished when people all pull in the same direction. My band family brought me into contact with the parents of my musician friends – loving and caring parents. I was a sponge and from them I learned that life was not all evil – that good people do exist in the world.
Later in life I taught myself how to play the guitar while struggling with PTSD and depression – this too was another turning point in my life. Part of me would have preferred to go the route of the singer/songwriter/guitarist traveling the coffeehouse and college circuit – but the advocacy took hold of me and that too has brought me into contact with so many wonderful caring people.
Many of us have come to some crossroad in life where we take another path…it may not be what we thought we wanted, but sometimes the universe is pulling us in way that we may not see or fathom at the time it is happening…and that is okay.
Once again, grateful to be able to share with you some inspirational people and resources…what has been a transformational moment for you? Please let me know.
Take care, Mike Skinner
FYI – The Ed Sullivan Show featuring The Beatles – a truly magical moment!