“I had a lot of emotional abuse with my mother; she was schizophrenic,” said Kaya John as she discussed her book, “When Life Sends You Lemons, Make Lennonaid: What John Lennon’s Life Did For Mine” (Balboa Press, 192 pp., $14.99), a story of how The Beatles and, in particular, John Lennon saved her from a path of self-destruction due to, among other things, abusive parents.
“She went into a very dark period where her insane anger just overtook her, and I was the target for it,” continued John. “And on my father’s end, there was very violent sexual abuse and, of course, that’s coming to the forefront in our culture and our world right now in a lot of different areas. It’s interesting because it took me a lot of years to write this book, and the timing of it seems to be rather amazing considering how that’s surfacing.
“A lot of people like The Beatles (and) there’s been a lot of books written about The Beatles but I’ve never read a really serious, personal book, written by a Beatles fan (about) how they affected their life. How they transformed their life, what they learned from The Beatles. And in my case, they helped me survive a very challenging childhood and, I feel, kept me from despair. Now that’s a strong word but it’s true, and they anchored joy into me, and there was a lot going on in my life for a lot of years that wasn’t joyful, but because I had The Beatles, they seriously offset everything else that was happening and kept me from getting into trouble. You know, in the ways that people get into trouble when they have rough childhoods.”
John has been in the home of Yoko Ono and has wedding gifts from both Yoko and Sean Lennon as well. But she never got to meet the man she credits for salvaging her from the embers of a fiery childhood.
Even her name was born of a tribute to Lennon, years prior to the book.
“Kaya John is a professional name that I’ve used for a lot of years,” she says. “Kaya was a spiritual name that I was given. The John came about because some friends and I were the first females to perform at a Fest for Beatle Fans as the Four Johns, and it became, ‘You’re so and so John’ and ‘You’re so and so John’ and I was Kaya John, and I liked it!”
Many authors base their writings and stories on dreams, imagination or events that have unfolded in their lives or the lives of others. But in this case, John credits a set of circumstances that just fell in place, even going as far as to say that it really wasn’t her choice to write it.
“By the time that I wrote the book, I was in pretty good shape. I started the book maybe 20 years ago or so and I really had already transformed my life into one of joy. I did go through a lot of therapy, you bet I did.
“I also lived in a spiritual community which also helped me transform my life, very much so. As for the writing of the book, it came about in a somewhat unique way. It started with an intuitive telling me that I would write the book, which actually was big news to me. And then I had a couple of dreams; one in which I was just holding the book which said, ‘My Book by Kaya John,’ and the other one was that I was at a Beatle appreciation course and I asked the instructor for the book and the instructor said, ‘You’re going to write it,’ and I woke from the dream and picked up paper and started writing the book. It was never actually a decision on my part; it just kind of flowed out of me.”
So why The Beatles? Why not other more popular artists of the day? Kaya was 12 in 1964 when The British Invasion hit, yet the Fab Four was where she found solace.
“First off, as I talked about, there’s such an inherent joy within the basic sound, the basic vibration, the basic harmonies,” she said. “I mean, their music just gets you up dancing, gets you singing and everybody just feels happy. And then there’s also for me, I feel that their lyrics were teachings — and particularly Lennon, and particularly Lennon when he went solo. He got very serious about revealing his own issues and working on them and all of these things transformed my own life, transformed me psychologically and transformed me spiritually.
“No one was looking forward to my being born, perhaps least of all me,” she writes in the book, in a chapter titled, “My Birth.” Being a child of the early 1950s, a time in America which she deems “The height of American propriety,” with a once divorced mother who married her father because that’s what was expected was not easy, and placed Kaya John firmly in the cross hairs of others’ issues and anger. Rising above it all, she admired Lennon for his willingness to see the big picture and change his perspectives and, in turn, his (and ultimately her) life.
“I feel that one of the powers of John Lennon was his own transformation of himself. He certainly started out to be a man who didn’t understand things. He really dedicated himself to growing beyond that and that’s one of the things that I talk about in the book and certainly one of the things that I admired about him. Lucky for me that he helped me grow enough that I actually married a man who was already taught (laughs).”
The book is well written, very personal, quite telling and open.
“It pretty much flowed; a lot of it was what I’ve been wanting to say my whole life, especially about John Lennon. I just wanted to thank him and be able to spread his message. I wanted to further explain his message of working toward world peace and self-transformation and get it to more people.”
For more about Kaya John and her book, visit kayajohn.com.
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