At different times in our lives, we all need a new perspective.
In the late 1960s, there was a young man who had a dream of
becoming a famous musician. He knew exactly what he wanted, so
he left high school and began to play his music wherever people
would listen. But as a high school dropout and with little experience,
he found it difficult to get work as a musician.
Before too long he found himself playing in small, dirty clubs
and bars. Sharing his gift with a handful of drunks night after
night became a discouraging habit. This was not his dream. He
had dreamed of playing to sellout shows across America and
around the world. He had dreamed of seeing his name in lights,
of walking down the street and being stopped for autographs, of
having his albums in every music store. He even dreamed one day
he would play to a packed baseball stadium—an absurd thought
in the late 1960s.
He had stumbled upon difficult times. Financially he was
broke, professionally he was failing, and his only joy in life was the
support of his girlfriend. They had so little money that they would
sleep in Laundromats to save the expense of a hotel. But one day
she got sick of being constantly on the road. This gypsy lifestyle
was not her dream, either. She had dreamed of being married to a
famous musician but was unaware of the hard work it takes to get
to the top. It was not the life she had imagined, so she left him.
With his only joy in life gone, he decided to commit suicide.
That night the young musician made a halfhearted attempt to end
his life by drinking a bottle of furniture polish and a bottle of
vodka. The next day, very sick, he checked himself into a mental
Less than three weeks later, he checked himself out. He was a
new man. He was refreshed, enthusiastic, and excited about life.
He was cured. They had not given him any medication, nor was it
anything the doctors or nurses had said to him. The other patients
had cured him.
They reminded him of how fortunate and gifted he was, and
they had shown him how much more life could be. He was given a
new perspective on life.
That day, that same young man left the mental institution absolutely
resolved to pursue his dream of becoming a famed musician.
He was determined to travel and work and do whatever was
necessary to achieve his dream.
Three years later, he wrote a song called “Piano Man,” and
today almost every person on the planet has heard of Billy Joel.
And yes, on June 22 and 23 in 1990, Billy Joel played to sellout
crowds of ninety thousand people at Yankee Stadium.
We all need a startling new perspective at least once in our lives.
Billy Joel’s experience in the mental institution gave him that new
From The Rhythm of Life
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