Are You “Already Gone”?

I can’t sing, but music is my muse. When I’m deep in thought or driving or working on something, music is sure to be playing. Usually ’70s and ’80s rock and roll, but it can be even more contemporary than that. I remember a couple of times in my life when the “Eagles'” song “Already Gone” would be blaring from the speakers in my car, fueling a feeling of freedom, of revelation, of euphoria…

Music and lyrics can inspire and give voice to some profound truth and allow us to look into the mirror, or deep inside ourselves, and see things that were there all the time, but somehow missing from our sight.

When I was in high school, I hung around with some guys who I had hung around with forever. They were hysterically funny, free spirits, and hell-bent on having fun. Were they my friends? I never really considered that question, but just accepted the fact that we all hung out together. Some of these guys I had known since the earlier days of elementary school and so I had no real sustained memories of life without them. The problem was that I was the only guy in the mix who had that thing called a curfew. Since none of them did, I was violating mine on a regular basis and so I was getting grounded a great deal. Is that even a thing anymore? Do kids get grounded, as in having to stay within the confines of their house, under a kind of house arrest, until your parents decide that you can regain your freedom? It happened to me, way too often.

Besides being grounded, I found that my compadres did not provide me with much happiness (I thought that they were responsible for my happiness – another wrong-headed concept – but that is a whole different topic.) I had braces on my teeth, which the guys thought was funny. My complexion was pretty disastrous too, which further amused them. Their humor consisted of ridicule, derision and was pretty merciless. I was unhappy, but I didn’t really feel as if I had any other friends. The teenage years are fraught full of stuff that can really affect us, and it isn’t easy overcoming a lot of that crap because we’re maturing, life is hard, and we don’t have much life experience to deal with all the things that are happening.

In retrospect, it’s kind of amazing that at the tender age of 16, I saw what I had to do, and immediately set about doing what I had made up my mind to do.

Finally, about halfway through my junior year in high school, I went on a religious retreat for a weekend. I met some great people, found that I had value, a sense of humor myself and that hanging out did not mean that I had to be the target of insults, whispers and mocking. In retrospect, it’s kind of amazing that at the tender age of 16, I saw what I had to do, and immediately set about doing what I had made up my mind to do. I dumped my old friends and got some new ones. It wasn’t quick or easy, and there was plenty of times that I second-guessed myself and wondered if I would ever make friends with anyone, nor would I be like the title of the “Little River Band,” song “Lonesome Loser.”?

In time, my new friends accepted me. I had to overcome the stigma of being a former associate of the guys that I had hung around with, as they had made themselves pretty well known for mocking, teasing and insulting lots of people, besides me. My new friends were equally possessive of the funniness quotient, which has always been important to me. They were involved in far more, how do I say this… the stuff my new friends liked to do really reduced my chances of getting grounded, suspended from school or arrested. Though we are not as close nor in contact as much as I would like, I still consider these guys friends and we do make an effort to stay in touch.

When I hear the song “Already Gone” by the Eagles, it makes me smile. The song is from the very era that I am referring to, the mid-1970’s. Listen to the song some time, and check out the lyrics:

“Well I know it wasn’t you who held me down, heaven knows it wasn’t you who set me free

So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key”

I had been living my life in chains, and did not realize that I had the key… think about how many things in our lives that these simple song lyrics could apply to.

Are you in a toxic relationship that is not healthy for either of you, yet you just continue to poison each other with animosity, indifference, and muddled resignation? Maybe you need to be “Already Gone.” Do you cling to negative thinking, a non-stop chirping in your head about how you aren’t good enough, experienced enough, clever enough, educated enough, whatever… Enough! Those thoughts need to be “Already Gone.”Are there habits that you know that you need to break out of, but… it’s easier, more comfortable, or downright hard to change or get away from the things that you do over and over and over – that leave you tired, drained, hopeless. Are there lifestyle things – eating too much of the wrong things, being sedentary, not challenging yourself physically, mentally or spiritually…?

These things, too, can be “Already Gone…” You do hold the key to unlock those chains – you may need professional counseling or medical intervention or a strong support network, or a combination of all of those… but whatever it takes, you DO hold the key.

Is there a job that sucks so bad that you lose sleep dreading the start of the next workday, that you feel sick thinking about the job, or your boss, or whatever it is that is sucking your life away – you hold the key. You can make that job “Already Gone,” and find a place where you are valued, and nurtured and encouraged to be whatever it is that you need to become. Maybe the key is working for yourself, changing the world once you change your outlook, your perspective, your habits.

There are some really smart people here on Linkedin who can help you with wherever you want to go. I love that they encourage, and support and embrace you where you are and then push, pull and cheer you on as you find your own “True North.” They talk of being brave, being vulnerable, being real, being who you are and then reaching down deep to share your story, your trials, your victories, and your secrets. Being “Already Gone” from who you once were will allow you to step into the future to the you that is intended to be.

And as they say in the song, there may be times where you have “to eat your lunch all by yourself…” but use your time alone to become stronger, smarter and more positive. Before you know it, you’ll “be feelin’ strong” and you’ll “sing this victory song…” But before any of that, you have to know – you hold the key.


Tom Dietzler
Tom Dietzler
Lifelong, proud somewhat strident Wisconsinite, I love my state and love to sing its praises. A bon vivant and raconteur, lover of history, literature and good conversations. Laughter and music are salves that I frequently am applying to my soul. I have spent time (too much) in manufacturing and printing and have found great joy in my current position as director of operations at a large church in the same area where I grew up. Husband to Rhonda and father of two adult children Melanie and Zack, I’m the constant companion of my five-year-old Lab, Oliver, who is my muse to a lot of my stories. I’m a fan of deep conversation and my interests are in learning and gaining wisdom, so in the last few years I have become and less politically vocal, and hopefully more respectful and open-minded. Rhonda and I sold our home in 2018, bought a condo and have traveled a bit more, golfed a bit more and are enjoying life a bit more. If you take the time to get to know me, prepare yourself for an invite to the 30th state to join the union, a gem located in the upper Midwest, full of beautiful scenery formed by the glaciers, with lots of lakes and trees and gorgeous scenery, and the nicest people that you’d ever want to meet.

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  1. “So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key.” I have referenced that song lyric many times, and it’s so fitting for this conversation. We almost always have more control than we give ourselves credit. Taking the next step is the important part of making change. Your choices were based on things that seemed important at the time (being with others, for example), but in time the truth drives the ship.

  2. Thanks for the extremely inspirational and relatable words, Tom. Really love those classic rock songs of the ’70s and “80s including just about everything from The Eagles. Heck of a Don Felder riproar guitar solo in “Already Gone”. I’m privileged to have been in the same cabin with you for 6 weeks at WI Youth Conservation Camp and later bumping into you during college days through mutual friend Pete who lived across the street from you. It was a blend of exploration, fun, learning, confusion and challenges in high school and college. You are quite the writer and storyteller. Keep doing and sharing what you do.

  3. Very enjoyable read and yes you do hold the key. However understand why you began whatever action you wish to change. I believe we in this world have reached the high divorce rates because we to quickly run to grab that key for the wrong reasons and because it’s easy.

    • I love that you love this; I love that so much of what hits my ear now has the opportunity to plant itself and marinate for a bit, and then flower into something like this. You helped me discover the power and beauty of stories like this. Thank you for helping me find not just this key, but a whole keychain to unlock a warehouse full of meaning, discernment and wonder. I can never be grateful enough. ?

  4. Oh, Tom, I absolutely love the “song” you are singing in this article. The messages match, overlap many of the ones I offer to others. Letting go of the people who no longer (or maybe never) lift you up, physical objects that clog your free movement through rooms, the activities that “suck your soul,” the thoughts that have not ever nourished you takes courage and a willingness to do so. Shedding all of this may involve being a bit blind, disoriented like a snake who cannot see because of the milky white liquid covering her eyes as she wiggles out of her old skin. The benefits far out weigh the bit of discomfort. Living “Already Gone” frees our spirits to create, to breathe, to live true to our unique path. Thank you for the inspiration, the encouragement to do this in this wonderful, honest article.

    I love music, “The Eagles”, too! Music continues to be a source of much inspiration for life, healings, “walking aways”, and transformations. I appreciate you and your writing very much!

    • Laura, since I wrote that piece, I have learned so much about all the things that you describe, and some of it from you. A year ago we moved, and that process taught me first hand of the freedom to be gained from leaving stuff behind and unchaining ourselves from the tyranny of possessions. Life is a continuous cycle of learning, leaving the suckful and cleaving to what matters. I deeply appreciate your role as model and example for so many of us. Thank you so much for your warm and gracious comments.

  5. Tom – Wow – you put your heart and soul out there for us to see and for us to reflect on our efforts to fit in during those difficult teenage years. Great article – great start on the BC360 forum. Thanks for sharing this piece of your heart.

    • Hi Len, it’s nice to meet you – thank you for reading my piece and for the warm welcome to BC360… and thank you for reading and responding. I think that I am going to like it here!

    • Tom – You will not only like it here but you will meet some amazing people along the way while you get to hone your writing skills. So much to like about this forum.

    • Ah Mary – it’s not by accident that this article gravitated to the top of my submissions here, as music truly is my muse. As I write this, a song from the “Doobie Brothers” just finished playing, and now I’m listening to one from the “Moody Blues.” Kinda gives my age away, but I’m not kidding anyone into thinking I am a kid anyway 🙂 I would consider it an honor to someday grab a bit to eat with you and share some stories… and thereby, neither of us have to “eat our lunch all by yourself.” Thanks for the comment, so nice to see you hear, too.

    • Thank you, John, I’m honored and humbled that you read it and responded, it’s very much appreciated.

  6. Well, BC360 just keeps getting better and better, Tom! Welcome to the platform! And what a stunning first piece for us to see! I can tell you that I was over 50 (and that’s not last year) before I realized what I was born to do, what I love to do, and what gives me great joy: teach. Help. Help others shine.

    How you could have not only known but have been right about the shape of your life to be boggles the mind. Sixteen is such a young age; nearly a baby. Amazing.

    I’ve read your articles for a couple of years now, and this one really rocks, so congrats!

    Great move, Dennis Pitocco, for bringing Tom in for everyone to get to know!

    • Hey Susan – I am tickled and thrilled to be in the company of so many smart, dynamic, active people… I deeply appreciate your support and love that my story resonated with you. Of course Sarah Elkins helped me find some of these things that I thought had long ago slipped into irrelevance and the mists of long forgotten stuff that just happens. I look forward to being able to spend some time to read some of the really fine writers who hang out here, yourself included!

  7. Hi Tom

    Loved the honesty and gumption with which you wrote your piece. Our fear of isolation and loneliness, especially in our teenage years, definitely hounds our every move. I have come to believe that it never fades away completely. As you rightly say, it takes courage and support to turn the key one way or another so it’s good of you to remind us. Yet my life expereince has also led me to believe that life is not just what you make it becasue life does deal blows that no amount of key turning can resolve.

    • Thank you for reading and responding. The one and only @Sarah Elkins helped me to mine some of these stories from my past and see what a big part we play in our own circumstances. Things and people and circumstances are only a part of each equation, and we can never discount how we have ownership in how our journey plays out. Being intentional and looking within ourselves for how we act and respond in these situations is so important. I really appreciate your feedback.