Turning Off the Principal Brain: The Other Side of “Abbey Road” and My Essential Role

(“Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles must serve as a background music while reading this blog.)

It can be quite hard to turn off my “Principal Brain.” It is a potential pitfall of which I am prone to stumbling. Being passionate about the sense of urgency and the leadership it demands causes my “Principal Brain” to be constantly burning mainframe of ideas, questions and actions. I do enjoy re-arranging the pieces of the school improvement puzzle. My sense of urgency is to serve, support and give as much as I can to the schoolhouse.

“This job can consume you.” is a recurring echo that shimmers from the supportive gaze of mentors and thought partners. I nod in gratitude and hear the words of wisdom, but I often allow myself to fall prey to that ever-growing to-do list.

Then, the opening notes of “Here Comes the Sun” and a ride home with my daughter bring the essential perspective back from the ether.

My oldest daughter had to be picked up from soccer practice and I there was a hesitant, but willing compliance from me. I had that million item list to accomplish of this and that to conquer.

“Abbey Road” by The Beatles is an album I have been playing non-stop in my car as reminder to have a strong finish for the school year. I have written about this strong “Abbey Road” finish in a previous blog post here. I even did a “mini-Ted Talk” about it at last week’s faculty meeting.

“Dad, I really like this song.” My daughter said it in kind of random, yet sincere way as “Octopus’ Garden” was playing. I had just picked her up from soccer practice and we were heading home.

My daughter is beginning to forge her musical identity and like her father is beginning to establish her fierce protection of the musicians she admires.

“Dad, this album is so good. It’s perfect.” A musical endorsement from my fifteen-year old is worth a breaking news story. I want all of my daughters to have what I consider to be the musical canon of The Beatles and other so-called dinosaurs of music to be embedded on their respective playlists.

The ride home went from the ritual, mundane conversation to one that was rooted in a sincere moment of exchange between a person I love very much. The “Principal Brain” was justifiably obliterated for the real purpose of who I am as a father. We connected on the beautiful vocal harmonies of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison on “Because.” We marveled at Ringo’s intricate drumming patterns on “Here Comes the Sun.” We both agreed that Billy Joel’s piano playing was greatly influenced by “You Never Give Me Your Money.”

Our ride home was one of the best experiences I had with my daughter due to our shared love of music and The Beatles. It is crucial to let the essentials of our lives dominate. Those essentials for me are being the best husband and father I am called to be. One essential I savored on that ride home was harmonizing with my daughter on “Here Comes the Sun.” That is a sacred moment that cannot be taken away or trumped by a classroom walkthrough or evaluation deadline. “The Principal Brain” is important but “Dad” has to always triumph when it comes to having essential moments with his children.

Music allows one to value the essential of what is in the heart. In gratitude for the connections of the essential, I strive to tune in to the music of my fatherhood.


One thought on “Turning Off the Principal Brain: The Other Side of “Abbey Road” and My Essential Role

  1. You have amazed me ever since you were a little boy. You leave me in awe and wonder as a man. How proud I am to be your father. Love you, Dad


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