William (Bill) Withers (July 4, 1938-March 30, 2020) was an American R&B singer-songwriter. Perhaps what struck me most about his life was that, after just 15 years, he courageously left the record industry to concentrate on his family and publishing business. His life, including his challenges as a stutterer, was the subject of the 2009 documentary film “ Still Bill .” In a 2015 Rolling Stone interview, Withers said, “These days I wouldn’t know a pop chart from a Pop-Tart.” That year he was also finally convinced to appear on stage again, this time with Stevie Wonder and John Legend, at Withers’ Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony .

As a 19-year-old piano player in an East Los Angeles soul group, I made the decision in 1969 to set aside the remote possibility of a career as a musician to devote myself to my marriage, a paying job and, eventually, raising a family. I’ve never regretted that decision. (Now, when I look around my large open garage on Sunday afternoons at what has become our socially distanced by 15 feet Good Karma Blues “Garage” Band, I’m grateful to have rediscovered music.)

“There are only two ways to live your life. One as if all that matters is to have someone love and accept you. The other is as though loving and accepting another person is all that matters. Often, when you choose the second you get the first.” ― Shannon L. Alder

As a depressed child and teenager, I was unable to reach out for help. Fortunately, as an adult, I began to open up to a wonderful therapist. I can only imagine how hard it must be for so many people in isolation right now who, when they most need emotional support, are reluctant or unable to lean on others. So, I would encourage each of us to reach out — by FaceTime, Zoom or phone — to just one person who might benefit from a human connection, and say or sing the following lyrics:

Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow
 
Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on
 
Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won't let show
 
You just call on me brother [or sister], when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'll understand
We all need somebody to lean on
 
Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Odds are you’ll make a huge difference in someone’s life (and yours, as well). These actions to relieve someone else’s suffering are one of the most valuable things we can do. And for those of you who may be struggling, you don’t have to fix it by yourself. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness; it is the exact opposite. I know how difficult it is to reach out when you’re down. But, I’m confident if you allow yourself to find someone to lean on, things will improve.

Let’s respect each other and stay safe out there!

687 Tiffany Meadows NE,
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
Cell: (206) 718-2447 PST