I’ve liked old things for as long as I can remember. As I child I dreamed of owning an old British MG convertible and gravitated towards Laurel and Hardy, Little Rascals, and black/white films. As I got older this love of old stuff continued and I started collecting vintage watches. The jazz revival in the mid-nineties was fabulous for me because I had already been listening to artists like Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Fats Waller for years. With a very few exceptions modern music didn’t sound good to me.
From the time I was in my late teens until just a few years ago I was consciously unplugged from current pop culture. In my mind I had partially dropped out of modern society. I was protesting a culture that I felt was empty, contrived, and driven by only one thing…making money. Like many people I was guilty of romanticizing the past. I imagined that life that previous generations lived was better, easier, slower, less complicated, and happier. The truth is this just wasn’t the case.
If I ever get to meet Woody Allen I’ll thank him for causing a tremendous shift in perception. A life changing awakening was triggered in me while watching his film, Midnight In Paris. The epiphany I had was this, each generation has its own struggles, stresses, and strife. By unplugging yourself from your current time and longing for the past you miss out on the geniuses of your time. Another tragic side effect of this is you lose the ability to be conscious of, and enjoy, the moment.
There’s something in our mammalian brains that tends to whitewash memories of past events. Maybe this was originally a mechanism for self-preservation or to foster happiness in old age but now it only impedes our personal growth so it must somehow be put into perspective. Examine memories of your own past. There are few of us who don’t uncover melancholy feelings about events or situations that were unpleasant or downright unhealthy while we were living through them.
The Universe is amazing, it provides us with lessons, in real time, nearly every moment of our existence. We can learn valuable lessons from friends, relatives, song lyrics, dreams, even films. The present moment can teach us many things. There’s one caveat, we must be paying attention. Maybe we call it “PAYING attention” because it’s hard. It’s difficult to filter out distractions and notice when our own brains are working against us. I know one thing for sure, it’s worth every single effort to try.
~Eric Vance Walton~