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Posts Tagged ‘aging’

This evening, as the kids and I watched the “Wizard of Oz’, I had a sudden recollection that ties the generations together for me.

The movie came out in 1939, the year my mother turned seven-years-old, and made quite an impression on her.

It began what was to be an annual run on American television in 1956. I was five that year, but we watched it as a family every year of the ‘50s from then on.

I don’t remember ever not having a TV in the living room; sitting in front of that tiny (by today’s standards) screen in the huge wooden cabinet on the oval braided rug as my mother … either perched on the brown, skirted couch, cup of coffee in hand no matter what the time of day, or standing behind the ironing board with a bowl of starch water at hand … did the ’50s version of multitasking. It was a position I must have mastered very early. Color TV had yet to arrive, so black-and-white was all we knew. Ricky and Lucy’s apartment, Sky King’s sky, everything the Mouseketeers got up to … all were sans any shade but variations on gray.

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The 1939 Poster

And that was fine … most of the time.

The exception to the whole being-okay-with-B&W thing came with the opening bars of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. My mother’s WoO had imprinted itself on her brain before the age of television, when films were only seen in ‘movie houses’ where a show cost a dime … unless you wanted to sit in the loges … and grownups could add a bit of atmosphere with clouds of cigarette smoke.

By 1939, cinemas also offered films shot in Technicolor, something this movie was made for:

Notable for its use of Technicolor, fantasy storytelling, musical score and unusual characters, over the years it has become one of the best known of all films and part of American popular culture. It also featured what may be the most elaborate use of character make-ups and special effects in a film up to that time.

The fact that this beloved experience was reduced for us kids to NO color annoyed my mother no end, apparently, so she did a running commentary to enhance our viewing pleasure … or hers.

This is where, all of a sudden, everything goes into brilliant color!

That is the YELLOW brick road!

The witch has GREEN skin! (No mention that she looked just like our Aunt Mary when seen in B&W until we were much older.)

Those flowers are poppies … bright red poppies … and are so beautiful.

The whole city is GREEN!

That’s the ‘Horse of a Different Color’ and as it walks around the color changes from green to purple and more!

And so on …

All these years later, I found myself tonight explaining my mother explaining the colors to me to my kids as they watched a hyper-hued DVD of the road and the witch and the poppies and the horse, realizing as I did that time sometimes moves in circles.

Now … if I can just find those damned ruby slippers. I know they’re around here somewhere …

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A bit of backseat kid talk overheard by Gay as she drove them home from school the other day:

Cj: Do you know about phones with circles? There are places for your finger, and you spin the circle around.

Sam: Yeah. Those are from the olden days.

Cj: How did they work?

Sam: I have no idea …

Seems time has been passing.

While I’ve been spending recent years surrounded by kids and kidults, water has been flowing rapidly under my bridge and the damned dam designed to deny the dribbling drip of days into decades has apparently sprung a leak and allowed splashes of senescence to wear the bloody thing away.

In other words, it’s now dawning on me that I’m old. Good timing, I suppose, since I have a birthday looming, but I could do without all the reminders.

Rotary phones, TVs that required a trip across the room to turn on and off, handwritten letters, Thomas Guides in spiral-bound form are all items that may now require explanation and illicit comments about the “olden days” when dinosaurs roamed the earth and the only way to see a photo without a trip to a lab and a wait of a week was with a Polaroid.

Living where I do I am limited to how much of the modern world I’ve actually seen and still find myself wondering “What the heck does that doohicky do?” when confronted by many items others take for granted already.

Yes, the speaking GPS in cars puts me in mind of HAL … we don’t have those here, as that would just be silly on an island 17 miles long and 4 miles wide … and I’ve not yet come around to loading some of the apps available for my iPad that might make life easier, but can’t be bothered to learn how to use.

I can be comforted by how much hasn’t seen some of the predicted changes we’d been led to believe would leave us in the dust. Since flying cars, robot maids, beds that pop you up like toast and other Jetsons / Carousel of Progress stuff haven’t been incorporated into daily life, we aging Boomers do manage to get along.

Although Sam and Cj may find it had to believe, airplanes, vacuum cleaners and televisions are all pretty much what they were when I was a kid. Blenders still blend the way they did, dentists continue to pull teeth out with forceps, babies come out of mommy’s tummies, cars move along on tires, and it still takes almost two days to get from LAX to Seychelles.

Heck! If I somehow instantly transported from my teen years to present day even much of my wardrobe would look like the latest thing …

Can we tell I still have more than a month before my calendar clicks over to a new decade? Yes … we can.

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Still pondering that David Eagleman article I wrote about the other day on time, and will eventually get to the bit on drummers I found interesting, but tonight it’s a different angle that has me twisting in the wind when I should be sleeping.

That bit about time going faster when it’s the familiar around us makes sense in ways I’m feeling these days. Maybe it’s the fact I have a birthday in a couple of months. Perhaps it’s the time I spend with Sam and Cj. Who knows? But what it’s boiling down to is a linking of age and time and how that makes it go so bloody fast.

Does it not make sense that time is relative, and not only to the spinning planet and ancient universe, but also to each individual? Sure, in geological terms a human life is an eye blink, as how could any of us even begin to comprehend the eons needed to carve a Grand Canyon or push India up against the Himalayas? We barely have the patience to wait to see how our own little dramas play out, so how the hell can we incorporate the truly slow grind or non-linear time that has the grind happening ahead as well as behind us?

I’m beginning to see life as through a telescope. When we’re young, we put the “wrong” end to our eye so everything seems so far away, beyond the chance of touch and so densely crammed into the picture that details are difficult to make out. As we age, it’s the other lens we gaze into, the one that brings things closer, and as we become progressively more familiar with what we behold, we begin to range wider for new sights to examine.

Time, it seems, telescopes as well. At ten, one year is a tenth of life. By 50, that percentage is so greatly reduced that there’s no wonder one Christmas seems to follow another with barely enough time to put a shopping list together in between.

At twenty we’re rushing toward life, anxious to get started on whatever path our feet might find. At sixty we’re wishing we hadn’t run those gamuts so quickly and have grown too aware of the speed the ground is passing under our feet.

Can’t we all … all of us of a certain age … recall the huge abyss that lay between eleven and twenty-one while wondering where the hell decade between thirty and forty got to? For sure Mick Jagger sings “Time Is On Our Side” with a far different take on the lyrics now, and I won’t even mention how “When I’m Sixty-Four” feels as that decade looms. (That was, after all, “many years from now … “)

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
~William Shakespeare

And tomorrow comes just that much faster the more you’ve had …

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