Wednesday, 05 February 2014
When Was the Last Time You Wept?
Regular readers will know that I have little tolerance for nostalgia or regret which, in our time, so often provoke a simplistic sentimentality.
That does not mean at all, however, that I don't give value to our memories. As forms of dementia so sadly prove, we are not who we are without them.
Nor does it mean that I do not miss some things and, certainly, people from my past. Hugely. What gets me through is that I am nothing if not practical and as a result, I have always been good at acceptance of what I cannot change.
In the early years of my eighth decade now, I am as eager and curious about life and the future as I have ever been so it is a great advantage that I have no interest in nostalgia and regret because they would only be hindrances to getting on with living.
Keep that in mind as you read on.
A couple of days ago, Kathleen Noble who blogs at The Dassler Diaries sent me a YouTube video of Billy Joel's New York State of Mind. She thought the circumstances of the video – a young student accompanying the composer singing his own song – might make it a nice item for the Saturday Interesting Stuff post and she wasn't wrong.
Take a look. (It's hard to hear but the kid's answer when Joel asks him what key he plays in that gets such a response from the audience is, "Any key you want.")
As soon as the young man got into the song's main theme, tears started rolling down my cheeks. I wept – loudly and copiously - through the entire video and continued for so long after it finished that my chest was heaving and my eyes swelled up.
Anyone who has read TGB for any length of time, knows that I lived in Manhattan for 40 years and did not leave because I chose to.
I wasn't born there but from the moment I arrived when, well into my 20s, I stepped onto the pavement in midtown, I knew I was home for the first time, that I belonged there.
And that has never changed.
However, it does not mean I haven't made a home here in Oregon near Portland. I have some friends now, I'm active in civic matters in my town, I do some volunteering and I am working diligently with a group to create a Village here (I'll be telling you about that sometime soon).
After three-and-a-half years, I am putting down some roots. I feel invested in my community and I want to help make good things happen here. But it isn't my “real” home.
I believe that some people feel something ineffable about certain physical places.
For many, it is where they were born or grew up. No matter where they wander in life, they are always drawn back whether they return or not.
Others, like me, had to discover the place – sometimes accidentally - that feels like home, the place where their fit with the environment is just right.
New York City is never far from my mind. I check in several times a week with local news there, regularly speak on the phone and email with friends who live there. I even have my coffee blend shipped in from a long-time, favorite shop in Greenwich Village.
With all that, my practical nature has kept me from wallowing in nostalgia for what I cannot have and helped me to become committed to my new community; how else could I get on with life?
But now and then something sends me into a paroxysm of love and grief for my “real” home - like that overly sentimental song Kathleen Noble sent.
What's your answer to the question in the headline?
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joyce Benedict: Pete Seeger – Thanks For the Memories