I was probably about 6 years old when my mom bought me The Whisper Of The Heart; a movie by Studio Ghibli about a middle-school aged girl who writes a novel to prove herself, which brought the song Take Me Home, Country Roads into my life. I fell in love with the story, which inspired me to be a writer when I grew up with the willingness to take risks to attain happiness. I was completely immersed in everything that had to do with this movie.
Shizuku, the main character, writes a version of Country Roads for a school event, and the song is shown in different stages of development throughout the movie. Take Me Home, Country Roads became my anthem, and has been that way since it first entered my life.
One summer, at about age 8, I sang Take Me Home, Country Roads at a karaoke open mic at a family friend’s cottage; I was so happy. That December, I unwrapped my very own karaoke machine, and several karaoke CDs; including a country CD with Take Me Home, Country Roads. I remember trying to follow along with it, but the harmonies convinced me this wasn’t the true version of the song.
My mom drove us to the store to pick out a CD with the song and found an actual John Denver CD. I grabbed it with glee, and began listening to him.
Song after song, they all held such passion and meaning, and I found myself completely in love with this disk. Whenever I sang, it was Take Me Home, Country Roads, but I hid it as well as I could. I kicked my legs happily on the school bus with it on repeat, which my bus driver wasn’t too fond of. I did school projects on his life, sang his tunes, made dances, rehearsed the lyrics and joyfully shared his music with people who showed interest.
I had found something that was uniquely my own, and that I felt only I could relate to. I felt this longing for a simple life, out in the country side, away from the city lights, honks and yelling. This life where I could write away in a log cabin, resting to the soft taps of rain drops.
John Denver reminds us that we need to preserve the simple beauties of our planet; the mountain tops, the waters, the trees and the people we love. We must cherish having these things because, once they’re gone, we will be robbed of silent sunny afternoons, and future generations.
He reminds us that aging is not a curse, but a gift to appreciate the land and watching everything and everyone grow around us. We must gaze at the beauty in nature that surrounds us, and make it our duty to protect every ounce of it that is left. Money, material and offices will never truly make us happy, especially when nature is crumbling around us at such a rapid pace; they will never save us from destruction.
John Denver taught me to be true to myself, fight for what I believe in and put happiness above all else. If I am not happy, I will never enjoy anything, and if that means I have to cut things out that bring mediocre contentment to be truly happy, I will take those steps. There are no sacrifices that are too big when happiness is the result. He also made me realize that I won’t be happy following the paths chosen by my peers; I will only be happy writing and sharing those creations with humanity to hopefully share something beautiful.
He has inspired me to create the pieces of art that I can to influence the people I can reach; and the people I cannot will be reached by someone else. I have hope for us as a species, if we can turn it around and focus on the simplest of things that surround us and appreciate what they have given us.
Look up to someone who inspires you to be the best you that you can be, and continue to try and be that person you’ve always wanted to be. Don’t sacrifice your happiness.