The Good Old Days
How many times have we heard or even uttered the words “in the good old days”?
What was so good about the time being called forth? I will tell you my answer at the end of this article, but first a little explanation to help you see why I think the answer makes sense.
Why were they the best days of our lives, was it the age we were at the time?
Was it our youth spent aimlessly seeking fantastical beings or experiences? Living our days making believe that things were different? The reality of youth was that we had nothing, could earn nothing, and had no voice in any matters of importance?
Possibly our teen years driven by newly awakened hormones writing checks that we couldn’t cash? We wanted to be seen and treated as adults, but those gangly limbs and squeaky voices made it impossible to be taken seriously.
Our eighteen to twenty-one years where we were no longer kids, but no one would call us adults, except when we did something wrong and were told to act like what they wouldn’t give us credit for being.
Maybe it was the twenty-five to thirty-five age where we were sure that we were the true driving force of the universe and the free market world revolved around what we liked and wanted.
It has to be that thirty-five to sixty-five period where we control the wealth and head the companies and the corporations… or at least the PTA and/or the Friends of Youth (insert sport here.) Surely the period of productivity contained in these years is the golden glow to be remembered.
It can’t be the so called “Golden Years” of retirement where truthfully the only thing golden is in the specimen cup you give to the lab technician. That time in your life where “the older you get, the better you were,” which is a defensive re-write of memories.
In reality you can’t remember to pull up your zipper or if you took your noon pill, but you can recall the stupid hat that Smiley McFloogle wore to that party, twenty years before the person you are telling the story to (for the tenth time) was born. And for some reason you expect the listener to know him.
So if the good old days aren’t measured by age, maybe it was the time frame in which we lived. For me that started in 1953.
Were the 1950s post war (WWII & Korea) years really the period of peace and growth? People around me had nothing, had lived with less, and had learned how to get by on air sandwiches and imaginary coffee for the last few days of the month. They worked hard and knew that things could get better if they could just catch a break.
There was a tremendous amount of prejudice and hatred of anyone different, left over from the war years. This was the time of white male dominance in both the workplace and the home. People of color, women, and children were just barely considered human and had no place in the decision making process. The country was progressing, but human and civil rights were not.
Maybe the enlightened 1960’s? Or were they really the decade of human growth that we had hoped for? The USA nearly had another “atomic bomb solution” with the Cuban crisis and numerous other posturing situations. The people’s president was assassinated before our eyes and the real details hidden from us for generations.
A war (Vietnam) that was never declared took thousands of Americans lives as well as huge numbers of the Vietnamese people. A people who like today’s citizens of Afghanistan, were already extremely weary of invading saviors.
At home we had civil rights marches and union battles over workers’ rights happening everywhere. The country was waking up to idea of protesting injustice in front of the television camera and every day of the decade we were treated to violence on the evening news. The horrific battles and destruction in southeast Asia were bracketed by riots and more assassinations at home.
The 1970s were just a repeat of the above with faster coverage by a more technologically proficient media. War for profit had become the standard we lived by in America.
Since 1980 a more insidious foe has emerged as the corporate world has perfected buying the government officials they desire, changing the laws which hamper them, and using their advertising skills to make the people think everything is their idea.
Our public schools are failing the students who need them most while our secondary education costs climb to where only the rich can afford them. Our college systems value sports and partying over academics and rape is a team sport where the victims are prosecuted for bonus points. No, I don’t think that the era constitutes the reason for the good old days either.
OK, time for the answer. The “good old days” are a memory fantasy created in our own mind to provide a safer and more personally satisfying spot to insulate us from our problems in the present. Everything is better if you just remember it “right.”
The good news is that real “Good Old Days” are right now. Today is the only day that you have control over. The past is gone forever and the future isn’t here yet so don’t waste valuable time on them.
Learn from the past, but don’t live in it. Prepare for the future, but don’t sit and wait for it to arrive.
The best days of your life are here, in your face. Live each day as if you won’t get another chance. Do what makes you smile, breathe deeply, push the envelope, reach out to others and give of yourself freely.
Some “tomorrow” you will die and it will be too late to fix the regrets about all of the love you didn’t share, the sights you didn’t see, and things that you didn’t do.