Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Amanda rocks, part II

“Dr. Joe, I had no idea Amanda Toland was a singer! I too have always wanted to sing.”

“Dr. Joe, what's your point?”

I ask myself that every time I write a doggone sentence.

“Dr. Joe, I'm anxious to see where you are going with Amanda's story, but don't give me any more headaches with your thoughts.”

“Yeah, me too!”

These were some comments I received regarding last week's write, “Amanda rocks.” If you didn't read me last week, hit the backspace button before you read this one. These ideas are best served in context.

I was intrigued by the interest in Amanda's story and the more I thought about it the more I realized her story is our story. Amanda's story has a great many subtle cues that give us the potential to believe that it is inherent within us that we have many dreams. Dreams are a natural part of the human condition. We all have dreams and we should follow them.

The implications of this write are vast, so I asked Amanda if there were some pertinent insights she wanted to extend to our readers. There ensued a rather introspective dialogue.

The biggest dragon that we'll have to slay is the dragon named “Fear of Failure.” Its looming head continuously haunts us and stands in the path that leads to our dreams. It curtails our effort and promotes only a half-hearted try. It poisons our rationality, prompting us to believe that life should be lived half in and half out of the shell and not with sails billowing on open seas. Of course a ship in the harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are built for. Risk is our mother; it's the breast of great endeavors. Surely Amanda's story tells us that. I think it was Elmo who said: “If you want to play the saxophone you have to put down the ducky.”

Do you know Michael Kachingwe? He directs and teaches theater at Cal Poly Pomona and also works at Starbucks. He shared a quote from his native country, Zimbabwe: “If you can walk, you can dance; if you can talk, you can sing.” The implication of this idea is the foundation of Amanda's story. The realm of all possibility exists within us, for the fruition of a dream is a matter of degree. One begins all endeavors by beginning. The outcome is incidental to the process but it's the process that is the root of all true euphoric experience. As long as we are not held hostage to our dreams, we will continue to dream.

With two young children, Amanda does not actually epitomize the essence of a rocker. But nevertheless Amanda rocks. After all, what's the difference where anyone sings? Whether it's singing while folding laundry or singing with the “Go Go's” at the Whiskey, singing is singing and for that matter a singer sings. Perhaps what's important to Amanda's story is that one must do what they love regardless of circumstance. Conditions are never just right, you know.

What once was does not always necessitate finality of experience or of endeavor. We just don't cease to be what we once were. Humanity is a composite of experience, so we can be many things: a singer, a mom, a drummer, an accountant, a student. When another door opens, the other door does not necessarily close but remains partially open, waiting as a delight for us to return once again. Whatever we once where, to some degree we still are and whatever once gave us joy, it still can. So that's why Amanda still rocks.

I told you guys last week I was going deep on this one and frankly, I only hit the tip of the iceberg.

If I gave any of you a headache, take an aspirin.

JOE PUGLIA can be reached at or write him in care of the Valley Sun, P.O. Box 38, La Cañada, CA 91012.

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