Vienna Waits For You

Vienna is a message to all of us to slow down. To keep learning. To keep growing and, most of all, never to set a time limit on our achievements.

When Billy Joel, the American singer-songwriter, was visiting his estranged father in Vienna, Austria, they were sitting on the sidewalk at a coffee house when Joel suddenly noticed an older woman sweeping the streets. Joel told his father how awful for this older woman to be doing this type of work. To which, his father replied, "No, it is not. She is being useful and doing a service that benefits everyone. She is not sitting at home, wasting away. She has great dignity." At that moment, Billy Joel realized American culture tends to cast aside the elderly, ultimately stripping them of their purpose, worth, and honor. In reflecting after witnessing this experience in Australia, an idea popped into his head as he sat down at his piano. He would go on to write a song titled Vienna. 

When Billy Joel appeared on The Howard Stern Show, he said that the song Vienna came to him very quickly. He called it "a Promethean moment." Describing his message in the song, he explained: "It was an observation that you have your whole life to live. I lot of people in their 20s think they have to get it all together by their 30s, and they kill themselves trying to get the golden ring. You have an entire life to live. The lyrics, 'slow down you crazy child' - in other words, you have a whole life. We tend to put older people away, and it's all about young people. Well, wait a minute, why do I have this whole lifespan? What's the point of it? Some people will get there sooner, and some people will get there later. Slow down, you're going to be fine. No matter what you do, be good at it, and whenever you get there, you get there."

Vienna is a message to all of us to slow down. To keep learning. To keep growing and, most of all, never to set a time limit on our achievements. If we "stack" good days together and take our time to prepare for our moment, we have an entire life to make a difference. 

Samuel Ullman was an American businessman, poet, humanitarian, and religious leader. Much like Billy Joel, Ullman's celebrated poem, Youth eloquently speaks to this self-discovery journey of aging that we all experience. One of General Douglas MacArthur and Coach Bill Parcells favorite poems, Youth hung in both of their offices.  

Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.

Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the infinite, so long are you young.

When the aerials are down, and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and the ice of pessimism, then you are grown old, even at twenty, but as long as your aerials are up, to catch the waves of optimism, there is hope you may die young at eighty.”

While it is easy to become distracted with the glitz and glamour culture of instant gratification, understand Vienna waits for you. Invest time into the process while enjoying the journey. Allow your mind and spirit to be energized with the affirmation each day that "No matter what you do, be good at it, and whenever you get there, you get there."


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