I want to read and learn all I can, write thoughtfully and truthfully, live according to reason and ever more mature wisdom, and savor every wonderful little gift of life.
One of my very favorite movies is Midnight in Paris. Not only is it just fabulously fun, but it’s about so many things I love—writing, history, great writers and artists, French, and, of course, love itself. But its central theme is something deeper—it’s the wish to live in a past era, believing it to have been better than one’s present era. In the movie, this is called “Golden Age Thinking,” which I think is a great term!
One of my favorite poets, Edwin Arlington Robinson, wrote a poem on the subject of “Golden Age Thinking”: “Miniver Cheevy.”
I imagine that E.A. Robinson based Miniver Cheevy on Don Quixote (which I’m currently reading!), in which the hero read so many novels about knights in shining armor that he came to believe he actually was one. 🙂
I will admit that I am too a Golden Age Thinker, though I don’t think I’ve quite gone crazy yet. I’m more at the level of Miranda Lambert’s song “Automatic”:
“Hey, whatever happened to waitin’ your turn,
Doing it all by hand?
‘Cause when everything is handed to you,
It’s only worth as much as the time put in.
It all just seemed so good the way we had it—
Back before everything became automatic.”
I think all the time about how much better I’d fit in with my grandparents’ generation than my own, in a hundred ways. I long for a quieter, slower era—even though I do appreciate many benefits of technology, of course. But so often, I wish I’d been born in an earlier time (say, the 1950s)…
~ when screens weren’t everywhere
~ when people didn’t walk around looking at their phones
~ when your food and clothes and other goods tended to come from your own corner of the world
~ when people didn’t expect life to be easy and fair but did expect to get basic friendliness from their neighbors
~ when bright young women weren’t necessarily expected to pursue ambitious careers [ahem, personal bit there…but here’s a fun post by a fellow blogger about women wishing to live in an older era]
~ when libraries were storehouses of knowledge that children could explore safely on their own
~ when all TV shows were pretty wholesome
~ when the world was smaller and quieter and simpler.
But I know, I know—things weren’t perfect then, and a lot of things are better now. That’s why Golden Age Thinking is a problem: at the end of the day, you’ve only got the time period you were born into (at least until we actually develop time traveling, in which case, sign me up!), to accept and make the best of. Complaining won’t do any good…but, on the other hand, self-knowledge always helps. So, knowing that I yearn for quietness and simplicity helps me see that I can take steps to get more peaceful downtime in my life. And this way, I can make my own time Golden.