My grandmother loves to talk about the good old days. I can tell because she gets a twinkle in her eye when she starts complaining about the way the world is run today and her memory takes her back, beyond the current century, to a time when things were simpler, people were kinder and she was lord and master of her house and tavern.
Yes, my grandmother had a tavern.
It’s not something that’s unique to her, nor is it unique to others of her generation. The reminiscing that is, not the public house. I’m not sure many grandmothers ran bars.
Even my aunt falls prey to reminiscence from time to time, and though she is certainly no more amenable to change than Grandma, she understands the effect of time upon the world. But I wouldn’t have considered talking about the issue if I hadn’t also heard an elderly gentleman call into a popular talk show – Barbara Gloudon, if you’re wondering – to lament the same thing. Dr. Gloudon, of course being from the same generation of grandmothers everywhere, readily agreed.
Is it that older people feel swept away by the tides of time into a brave new world, bitterly nostalgic for a past when things were understandable and normal? What exactly is the emotion that underlies this fierce distrust of the new age? Is it a feeling of helplessness as the world around you morphs, gets younger, while your body only sees fit to slip into something a little more wrinkly and filled with joint pains?
Is it an acute feeling of the body’s betrayal that creates the stereotypical “cranky old geyser” or is it the feeling of being a stranger lost in a strange land? If we live long enough, we’ll get the answers.
Part One of a two-part post on the inertia of humanity. Read part two here.