In today’s environment of balls-out information overload it’s so easy to idealize the past as a time when everything seemed to make more sense. Did it? …Really?
Full confession…I’d watch even BAD old black and white movies because they made me feel good. People were nice, polite and kindness ruled. The good guys and the bad guys were clearly defined and the lifestyles? OMG, in the hands of the highly skilled Hollywood set, custom and lighting designers, were beautifully depicted. Everything was artfully adorned, completely resolved and asperational down to the minutest detail.
Hey, “Nothing wrong with total escapism,” I used to tell myself…um… and still do! LOL
Now mind you, I still watch those classics but through a far more enlightened (and historic) lens and context. Hollywood told stories that totally amped up the “It takes a village” concept. That is of course if you had a village, aspired to one and shared the same ideologies.
Yep, for a few quarters, the movies allowed the viewer (even in the worst depression in our history) to vicariously dream. ---Nothing wrong with that. Hey, I’m the biggest dreamer EVER!
So, it was perfectly okay…except…if you were black or brown or gay, or had no access to education or were a single or working female or anything other than Catholic. Yet, even of they were not your stories, they were better than the realities of your own existence. The END. Roll credits. Sigh.
If you were born in 1955, as I was, the lifestyle options and even the very morays and legalities of my time clearly dictated that life would be infinitely easier if one blindly accepted that the human timeline as finite—locked in and linier.
Birth, childhood, school (and awakenings), summer job (a little more messing around) career trajectory (with a few detours), marriage (hit or miss), retirement, physical decay…cough-cough, then you’re dead.
Today at 60-something it would be so easy for me to wax nostalgia on the past…cling to it as “the best of times.” I could so easily be a dismayed, dismissive, grumpy, intolerant old fart were it not for my freak-of-nature parents.
My father had been born in the 1940s into the typical white, Anglo-Saxon middle class family and fled at first chance. He even married an Italian girl (imagine?) and together they escaped to the wilds of Alaska where they had us three kids. It would be years before Alaska would become a state and we’d return to the lower forty.
When we did, you can imagine how clunky and awkward we were as a family of aliens descending into the bucolic Leave It To Beaver neighborhoods where uniformity ruled and tolerance was only condescendingly 'bequeathed' to those earnestly seeking permission to join the local country club.
Consequently, we were forever on the move and lived in the shadows of one community “village” after another. --basically "the help" until Dad had another idea. Mom would come into our bedroom and say, "kids I have something to tell you..." and we'd finish her sentence. "WE'RE MOVING!"
Luckily our survival instincts had already been well tested. We’d already witnessed true villages at work where survival of hardship, individuality and courage was prized. It was resourcefulness through our individual creativity that was unlocked and encouraged to thrive. So even at our tender young ages, our skills were far more honed. Our ears, far more attuned to words and meanings that disguised implications of discrimination, pretence, ignorance and collective, versus individual thinking.
This would serve us well and insolate us from the rather predictable and often-cruel diatribe of the 50s until the necessary upheaval of the 60s kicked in…and the so-called “age of innocence” ended.
I was so lucky to be taught early, that ignorance was not bliss even at a time when it was considered inappropriate for someone my age. I was taught that wisdom did not come with age…only the ability to recall the past accurately through the continual evolving lens of a self-examined life.
So when I hear people my age and older, claiming that times were better, I know better.
I no longer blame newer generations (that have now goggled everything) when they roll their eyes.
If I tell myself my own personal truth, the village-centric Age Of Innocents never was. It’s just that the information came more neatly pre-packaged in a more multiple-choice format for preapproved consumption. It politely fell neatly on one or the other side of the “acceptable” or “non-acceptable” line.
If I do wag my finger at the “young people” it’s because they don’t sometimes realize that the shoulders of greater choice and more shades of gray and better inroads to equality are because of people like me you little s**t. Ha!
Times, for many on the fringes, were not better. So this mourning of the past to justify intolerance of the future is a lie I still continue to catch myself in--probably once a week. LOL In truth it’s just a knee jerking to someone looking “through” me when they once looked “at” me.
Yes, we must pay homage to our pasts but only through the individual lens of a continually self-examined heart.
Otherwise, we can’t see our progression nor choose more wisely whose shoulders we deem truly worthy to stand on. If we only use the existing law if the land (based on the past) versus the enormous and transformative power of our personal creativity, as the only barometer to our future, then we continue to only emulate the lives of others. We never use our inner creativity to curate a life unique to our own souls. That’s like using an 18th century map versus the GPS because it’s “newfangled technology.”
If we need to escape and dream, let’s do it through our own inherent personal creativity that is as systemic to our interior genetics as DNA is to our physical exterior. It’s this, un-tethered by man’s idea of religion, or socioeconomics or politics or wealth or gender, that connects us to every other human on the planet regardless of the villages or place or rule under which any of us are born.
If there is “a village” it’s now a global one. If we want to uphold and enforce the values of healthy human cooperation, let’s do it through a lens that is ever-evolving right now. ---Where women are finally finding their voices. Where a newer generation refuses to see color…where whom we love and our personal ideas about faith and even our personal taste is actually our divine right.
Then let’s get out a new canvas for ourselves and splash it with colors we crave. Let’s push the clutter away that goes with the life we thought we were supposed to want. Or turn it into something new with a little paint and duct tape and fabric and hot glue.
Let those with fear do their own thing because we know that where there’s fear there is no creativity.
If we can learn to witness life though the unconditional lens of creativity, it can far outweigh and un-tether us from the social confines of “belonging” or “staying” in tribes that no longer support us, or never did.
Through creativity we can learn and adopt what rings true to us and leave other’s traditions and folklore to them and them alone.
Through creativity, we can re-choose a lifestyle that actually fits us now.
Through creativity I came to know the greatest truth of all.
That the only truth about the truth is that it is fluid. It evolves as we evolve and that tolerance isn’t something to endure and condescendingly bequeathed. It is, in fact, love in its truest and purest form.
We can do it!