Leave it to Facebook to provide me inspiration for a story.
A couple of days back I was perusing the ‘News Feed’ – posts from my Friends, and one bugged me – it was a pic of Shirley Temple and Honey Boo Boo side-by-side, with the caption “What has happened to this country?”
Setting aside whatever political statement the poster was trying to make (which I still don’t know and don’t really care), the inspirative thought hit me –
Why do people romanticize the past at the expense of the present?
Now sure. Some of it has to do with nostalgic recollection of days gone by. And certainly I have no problem with that line of musing. I do it all the time, especially when I see an old friend – “Hey remember when we were in high school and that night with those twins? Man, those were the days…”
Okay, there was no night with twins. Roll with me here.
What I am referring to are people who embellish the past at the expense of the present; people who think things – or they – are worse off now than then. Now add to it the future, and these people have some grave, apocalyptic Mad Max vision of how things will be, both for them and for society.
And some of my Facebook friends apparently can divine all this from pics of Shirley Temple and Honey Boo Boo side-by-side.
Well, here’s the truth. The past was not as great as you remember it, the present isn’t as bad as it appears and the future is not going to be a mega clusterfuck.
Because life is weird. It’s random. It is, literally, unpredictable in the most literal sense – nobody can predict what will occur based on what has occurred. And definitely not politicians, so remember that in the next election cycle.
Let’s take my friend’s Shirley Temple example. Apparently his message was that things were much better in the 1930’s than they are now.
Really? Millions of blacks who did not have the right to vote and could not attend schools with whites would beg to differ. Polio sufferers would have issue with that. And that guy in Germany who had visions of a ‘master race’ was plotting his plan.
Okay, I win that point you say. But what about on a personal level? “I miss the good old days!” you cry.
Well, cry all you want, but you are suffering from selective recall. You remember the good but conveniently forget the bad. Let me use the one subject I am an expert on, myself, as an example. It is very easy for me to sit here and talk about how ‘wonderful’ things were in, say, 1983. I was 24 years old, had just moved to Florida, I was meeting a lot of girls and living a very carefree lifestyle. But I was also dirt poor, my car broke down every other day, and was living with three other guys in a house with no privacy…and no air conditioning. In South Florida.
So yesterday was no picnic. Now, let’s go to today, and let’s stay on the personal level, because opening that discussion up to the global levels brings in politics and world events and all kinds of stuff that will get us off message. What is going on in your life right now can either be looked at positively or negatively. Your choice. There is good and bad going on – nobody has a shithole/no positives existence and no one has a utopian/everything is perfect one either. We are all in that muddled middle of good and bad.
But here’s the thing – it’s all temporary. None of it will last. So remember that when you are hitting a rough patch. It will pass. But, that also applies to the good times - those too shall pass.
So it’s all in how you look at it.
I hear you now – “Gosh thanks Dr. Phil.”
Whatever. But it truly is all about perception – your perception and your life.
Now, the future. This one is simple. Who the fuck knows? Nobody. And I caution you from drawing conclusions of the future based on current conditions. Why? Re-read that paragraph about it all being temporary.
So, what’s my point in all this? Simple. It’s all up to you. I’ve seen happy people who don’t have a pot to piss in, and I’ve seen unhappy people in mansions. It’s all about perception. And one of my favorite phrases is, if you have one foot in yesterday and the other in tomorrow, you are pissing on today.
Carly Simon said it best. These are the good old days.