Remembering

Facebook is a lot of things to a lot of different people. Endless variations on a common theme. A surprising number of people use it to transmit and share the minutia of their lives. What we had for dinner, where we had dinner, was it good, or not so good. If it was good, I’ll probably see a picture of it.
I don’t mean to criticize. If those at either end of these conversations find it entertaining or enjoyable, who am I to say it’s not a good thing. It’s just not MY thing.

I use Facebook for diverse reasons. I belong to several groups. A couple of them discuss and share pictures of the world wars. Others share techniques for building plastic models of the various mechanisms of those wars, land, sea, and air. Some discuss techniques, with examples and tutorials the various methods of technical illustration. Others do the same for photography. Among others which are my things.

A large portion of Facebook is used for history, our memories, and the nostalgia created in part by those memories. I enjoy that part of it, and as I get older I also take increasing pleasure in seeing pictures of the various children that occasionally touch my life. To use a popular phrase, which I’m not particularly fond of, it’s all good.

Another of the ways that I use Facebook is little rambles like this one which again falls into the memory and nostalgia category. The nostalgia we hold for certain times in our lives is a funny thing. At the remembered time, often there was nothing special at all, it’s just the way it was, and we thought nothing of it. Looking back, and doing the remembering, we are different people than we were then. We have more experience, we’ve seen more of life than we knew at the time we are remembering, we are, hopefully wiser, and certainly older. We look at a photograph of a 1950s living room, and get a nice warm glowwy feeling remembering being a child in such a setting. In truth, the living room we remember is also part of the house in which you perhaps once broke your arm, or had the flu, or had to study when you wanted to watch Roy Rogers.

But our minds work in a wonderfully selective way. An old Doonesbury cartoon suggested that Ronald Reagan had an optical condition which permitted him only to see the world in reverse, and through a rose-colored filter. Ha ha. But I think we all have a bit of that in us, and it is a blessing.

I’ve been in a nostalgic mood these past few days, remembering a time which wasn’t so good at all, but which I now nonetheless remember fondly. Weird, huh? 40 years ago this month, I had been in Milwaukee for a two and half years, and for two years I had been in a relationship, one that was falling apart. A popular song at the time, from Barbra Streisand’s “Streisand Superman” album titled “My Heart Belongs To Me” was, in retrospect, the soundtrack of my month of October in the year 1977.

Before the month was over, the relationship was as dead as was ever going to be, which is to say, completely. Among the ways I reacted to this reality was to get out my albums, and make a cassette tape to play in my car. (yes I said cassette tape. Remember this was 40 years ago). Using the Barbra Streisand song as a theme, it was a cassette of similar such songs. Without realizing it, I had musically mapped out the winter; through the depths of despair and up again, closing with a couple of positive, upbeat songs at the finish. The final verse from a song added to the list a couple of years later tell the story quite succinctly.

“When the night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong.
Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love, in the spring becomes the rose.”
(Bette Midler, “The Rose” – from the movie of the same name)

There’s something to be said for the notion behind Neil Diamond’s, “Song Sung Blue”, which “makes you feel bad and yet good at the same time”. That tape got me through the winter of my discontent, and onto the spring of 1978, which turned out to be a pretty good time, fulfilling the promise of the last couple of songs on my tape, taken from Melissa Manchester’s album “Better Days, and Happy Endings”.

May all of your soundtracks end with a happy song.

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