From time to time in this space — hopefully not ad nauseam — I like to look back to some of my childhood experiences that I think may relate to some of yours; those small events that tend to influence our lives further on down the road. The intent is to avoid wallowing in nostalgia, while finding the humor and curious nature in those days so far into the past.
Well. I can certainly tell you that you haven’t heard the half of it, but it turns out that Kris has, and she thinks that I should share, share, share. Write the longer form, she’s urged. Don’t you think you could pull at least some of it together?
And you’ll get started exactly when? she’s continued.
I thought about it.
And now I’m under way, with what may amount to an addiction. Things keep coming up.
Two of the things I learned back when the pencil and legal pad were invented: Writing sure beats actually working for a living; and writing is a voyage of discovery. Both are true. Of the first, how hard can it be to brew a fresh cup of tea and close the door?
And second, it’s amazing what you find out when you start to talk about life with a bona fide purpose.
So it’s been as I’ve started to collect my thoughts and recollections of the formative years. In round terms it’s been a fresh look at my perspectives and priorities then, and compared, of course, with the here and now. And those, not surprisingly, are all about context.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I grew up in a small town, where matters were almost entirely local, and that have had a far stronger influence on who and what I am now than I had previously thought — on the order of “you can take the boy out of the town, but you can’t take the town out of the boy.” Parenthetically, the dream of retirees to escape big city life and move to a small town can be less idyllic than might have initially been supposed. Then too, why is it that getting new Oregon licence plates is a first order of business when you move into town?
Most obvious back then was a social factor that is completely different from what is apparent now, and it goes well beyond the toys that populate our lives in the 21st century. You related to people in a different way; i.e., more slowly and more deliberately. You related to fewer people within a given time span, which meant that the reasons for doing so were necessarily more compelling. That is, the connectivity we prize in today’s world was a completely different thing back in those times, and I’m thinking now, more substantial and worthwhile (one of the reasons I decline to saddle up with Twitter). Speed was valuable, but it wasn’t everything.
As Kris could tell you, I have rather surprising recall for names, faces and events, as well as the good, the bad and the you-know-what. I don’t really know why that is — my dad used to say it had something to do with a guilty conscience — but it turns out to be a ton of fun. I can always reply to someone else’s story with “Oh yeah? Think that’s hot? Let me tell you about…” But the value, I have to insist, is that it fuels a useful view of the then and now. Perhaps not an especially accurate view in all things, but at least a place to begin.
Which is where I am right now. No promises of completion unless somebody comes up with an advance check, but there is a work in progress. We’ll see what happens. Meantime, it looks to a be a fun and learning experience.