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Our Glory Days

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The world is running out of grandparents. How many times have we heard about “the good old days” and how “things just aren’t like they used to be when I was kid” and other phrases of similar context from older generations? It seems as today will never be good enough as back then. Most of the time, we roll our eyes at this longtime motif of life. “Black and white” movies are no longer labeled as suspense and comedy, but boring strips of film whose humor has dried up over seemingly endless ages. Those things are so old, so long ago! Surely, it is not our fault that we will never understand.


But we have been silenced into acceptance. The adults will always be asking “where has the time gone” and how ten years ago “feels like yesterday“. And exactly for how long shall this continue? For as long as there are parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents- anyone who will keep these feelings of nostalgia alive. However, as the younger generation with our impending reign of innovation, we don‘t want to feel as if the standards have already been set.



It is a natural tendency of ours to question the continuation of some old ways, no matter what you politically name yourself. (Do we really want our posterity to value the Soulja Boy dance?) We wake up to a present period of fear-manipulative news channels, technology so advanced it could lead to our own demise, and a new kind of government. The changing times are inevitable, and now it is us in control.



Not all traditions are indefinitely lost. Fashion trends are inclined to repeat themselves. Skinny jeans have made their recent comeback, but have been reoccurring since the 50‘s. Peace signs have also made a return. The degradation of culture over time is still evident, though, since they are their purpose is not for a civil movement, but commercial designs.



Being a product of the late 90’s, I was exposed to much of the music my parents had listened to in their prime when I was little. It still surprises me that I can tune in to a radio station that mixes up musical time periods and find lyrics coming back to me from a karaoke night or a tape that my parents would play in our Oldsmobile when returning from a relative’s house. My knowledge of the Beegees, Journey, The Cars, and Michael Jackson is pretty respectable.


Perhaps one day will come when I’m sauntering around my kitchen and a particularly catchy line of an AC/DC song will pop into my head. This thought did not come into mind until my mother discovered the Easy Listening Channel on our Comcast Cable Network.


From my point of view, the Easy Listening Channel played elevator music, but my mother could not pull herself away from it. My disbelief could not be dissatisfied as she hummed to Oldies and was able to guess nearly all of the song titles when turned away from the screen. “My dad loved all of these songs,” she explained. Sometimes a line, with the words a bit slurred from uncertainty, would slip from between her teeth.


I wondered how long it would be until my kids were singing watered-down versions of the music giants of my youth like the Jonas Brothers and Taylor Swift. I imagined songs repeatedly played on the radio today going through a process similar to the radioactive decay I’d been lectured about in chemistry. They’d transform from fresh, infectious hits into “Who? What? When?” The feelings of nostalgia are not going to become a different kind of nostalgia. They will be thinned and sliced into slivers throughout the years. Hot songs today were doomed to become fragments of unconsciousness. Legends were meant to be defined over time, for they would decay the slowest.



In addition, this decomposition would not only apply to pop culture. How much time would pass before traditions and values became depreciated as well? Despite those warnings they gave us in elementary school about drugs and drinking, people are still dying in accidents caused by drunk driving. Simplified, life could just be a joke on us, bombarding our hearts with circumstances faster than we can actually accommodate them. Wherever permanent human memories are generally kept, there doesn’t appear to be an impressive amount of space.


However, to say this reveals a sad truth that human moral fiber is weak, but not impossible to work with. As the future moaners over passing time, we still need to remember we are going to make a lasting impression on this earth. I watch my mother humming fragments and waltzing towards the kitchen sink in tribute to her father, who had died of kidney failure while she was still in college. It didn’t seem like there was much time left at all.



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DePapillon said...
Aug. 17, 2010 at 5:51 pm:

I was thinking about this earlier today, strangely enough. I agree with your point that eventually our generation will fade and die out, with hardly a trace remaining - just another space of time in the grand scheme of things.

Impressively written. I really appreciate how the conclusion states that though there is little time left, we still can make an impression on the world (even if it isn't a big one - maybe you brightened a little boy's life by en... (more »)

 
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