Peace Principle #1 From Winslow — “Take It Easy”

Peace Log, March 30, 2018 — I’m a mobile peace journalist, headed East across the U.S. to cover the MLK50 Conference, April 3–4 in Memphis. Traveling from Vegas, earlier this week, I found myself walking around Winslow, Arizona for the first time ever, even though to say I’m a diehard Eagles fan is the understatement of the century! I have literally lived on The Eagles since the 1970s.

“Well, I’m a standing on a corner 
 in Winslow, Arizona 
 and such a fine sight to see 
 It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed 
 Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me.”

Taking a photo of someone taking a photo at the Gift Shop. (Photo: Susan Beaver)

I had always imagined myself standing on the corner, and finally had arrived. Today, it’s a simple, sort of lonely corner, really, though I imagine when Route 66 was in its heyday, it was a happening corner of the world. Thanks to a local restoration group, along side a huge mural by John Pugh, there’s a small park and a statue of late Eagles singer/songwriter Glenn Frey marking the spot on the corner and celebrating The Eagles.

Nonstop Eagles Tunes in A Place Dedicated to the Song

In Winslow, I could hear Eagles songs, including Take It Easy, one of my favorites, rafting from all the stores as I walked the streets, enjoying my time there. Non stop Eagles…. now that’s Heaven!

Though I didn’t see the flatbed Ford, I did get the opportunity to talk with John Myers, the owner (with his grown kids, Don and Sandra Myers) of the 1911 building that houses “Standin’ on the Corner” Gift Shop (100 East Second Street), located kitty corner from the oldest building in Winslow built in 1904.

Having a Raspberry Pale Ale at at RelicRoad in Winslow, Arizona. (Photo: Susan Beaver)

That building is home to their family’s brewery, restaurant and bar, appropriately called RelicRoad. I love it!

The Old La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Restored and Peaceful

John took the time to talk history with me, telling me about their restorations, as well La Posada right down the street. La Posada was one of the finest hotels back when the train brought folks across the expanse from Chicago to LA. (They had “intermodal” transportation back then, with Route 66 and the railroad right next to each other.” Now, it seems, there’s often an inland port close by, too.)

Talk about a sheroe, it was a woman, renowned architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter who designed the Spanish-hacienda styled hotel, financed by Fred Harvey, the owner of the Santa Fe Railway and one of the richest railroad men in the country during the early 1900's!
The beautiful restored La Posada in Winslow, Arizona. (Photo: Susan Beaver)

Mary Colter worked for the Fred Harvey Company from 1905 until her retirement in the 1950s. Although famous for her magnificent buildings at the Grand Canyon, she considered La Posada her masterpiece.

Fred Harvey is credited with helping to “civilize the west” by introducing linen, silverware, china, crystal, and impeccable service to railroad travel and building La Posada. After Interstate 40 was built and Route 66 was sidelined, the hotel, which had been one of the exclusive “Harvey Hotels,” fell into disrepair. Allan Affeldt purchased it from the Santa Fe Railway after learning that the property was in danger of being torn down. He established La Posada, LLC to take on the enormous risk and complexity of the estimated $12 million restoration.

It is a beauty! And a peaceful place, for sure. Thanks, Allan. (It even has a great big piece of art, entitled “Rebel,” that was commissioned by none other than actor James Franco.)

“Take It Easy” — The First Step to Building Peace

Take It Easy was written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey. It came out in 1972, a very good year. Like any great rock song, Take It Easy contains quite a few sex references (“tryin’ to loosen my load,” “so open up, I’m climbin’ in,” etc.) So too, not all that amazingly for Eagle lovers, the song’s upbeat melody, easy listening style and lyrics give us the first lesson in mediation, in cultivating peace: “Take It Easy.”

Map of Route 66 on the side of Standin’ on the Corner Gift Shop in Winslow, AZ. (Photo: Susan Beaver)

One cannot be at peace with another until you have calmed your own mind and become peaceful inside. Cultivating peace is an inside job. How do you expect to be calm and talk level-headed with another when you’re in your head, upset, and stewing over the other person’s perspective or something you feel they may have done to you?

In peacebuilding (and life), let us refuse to consider ourselves victims. We give away our personal power when we do, and lose the opportunity to move into a neutral, open position to begin dialogue with another human being.

The Eagle’s lyrics exhort us: “Don’t let the sound of your own wheels make you crazy.” Our egos can keep going round and round in our minds about how he or she has “done me wrong,” or is wrong, yet that never moves the situation forward. You gotta “take it easy” to get yourself in the prime frame of mind to negotiate and collaborate.

I also tend to take life too seriously, so the line “lighten up while you still can” is a reminder that I need every day.

It’s been said that music is the universal language. Listening to music together is often a bridge builder between people and groups. Put some tunes on when you’re trying to relax before any “difficult discussion” you need to have. Why not enjoy the music together before you talk? Get smiling, get laughing, see what you have in common, even if it’s just your love for some Good Ole Rock and Roll! It’s all good.

And getting near the end, I hear the lines, forever written in my mind:

“Lighten up while you still can 
 don’t even try to understand 
 Just find a place to make your stand 
 and take it easy.”

I say: Let the people make our stand — for peace. Whatever talking we need to do, let’s prepare ourselves beforehand and get in the “optimal, light” position, ready to be totally open to the other person (just like the song says : )

If you like, enjoy the tune now on YouTube.

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