How Are You?

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RJDiogenes
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How Are You?

Post by RJDiogenes »

When I was very young, I knew great optimism.

I grew up in the days of the Civil Rights Movement, the Summer Of Love, Women’s Lib, Peace and the New Frontier. I watched Star Trek and read Arthur C Clarke because I believed in a better and brighter future. All the things that Generation Whimper derides as cheesy, that angry adolescents mock as Hippie, that posing cynics characterize as naive, that religious fanatics condemn as immoral, were the things that defined my outlook.

As the years and decades passed, I experienced the disappointments and watched the failures of a generation. I saw selfishness and betrayal, violence and murder, despair and suicide. I shook my head helplessly as success turned to failure, as progress was eroded by setbacks, as enthusiasm waned, as fear and insecurity undermined peace and love, as defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory. Twenty-four years working in Health Care showed me a world of poverty and disease and death and tragedy, lives of hopelessness and pain, voices lost in the wilderness, prayers falling on the deaf ears of the Universe, endless potentials bagged and buried. I grasped uselessly for solutions as struggling subsided to surrender, as Art and Literature devolved to Bread and Circuses, as eloquence turned to rhetoric, as light faded into darkness.

I’ve seen the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, and the aging of the Dawn of Aquarius.

Today, as weeks of rain and fog and storms broke, as the clouds parted and the sun clove the dense gray clouds, I sat sipping a bottle of Twisted Tea and reading my nostalgia magazines. I read of men and women whose stories and art have passed into history, replaced by a newer generation defined by a defensive veneer of faux cynicism and carefully jaded callousness. I turned the pages slowly, admiring their talent and insight and craftsmanship. And, suddenly, I burst into laughter. Not mocking laughter, not derisive laughter, not resigned laughter– not even the rising, high-pitched laughter of madness. It was laughter of pure joy. Joy that these people lived, that their works endure, that their vision will be available when the time comes and all falls into place.

Nor is this unusual. To be truthful, this happens to me all the time.

It happens because, despite everything I’ve seen and experienced, despite the years and decades that have wearied my body and grayed my hair and detailed my face with character lines, I still believe in the spirit that created the artwork that endures in ancient caves, the spirit that built Stonehenge and the Pyramids, the spirit that painted the Mona Lisa and American Gothic, the spirit that wrote “The Road Not Taken” and Foundation, the spirit that lifted civilization out of the Dark Ages and forged the Constitution, the spirit that put footprints in the Sea Of Tranquility. It happens because I’ve seen disaster averted and disease cured and death denied and hope rise from the ashes of destruction. It happens because I’ve known men and women who have given blood and surrendered the organs from their bodies so that another might live, because I’ve watched people die so that complete strangers can be saved, because I’ve seen those with only two nickels to rub together give one away to someone in more desperate need, and because I’ve seen hardened, calloused adult Human Beings weep over the grave of a beloved Pet. It happens because I still believe in the improvability and perfectability of Humanity; without doubt or reservation, I believe in it.

It happens because I still know great optimism.

This is how I am. How are you?
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Lupine
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Re: How Are You?

Post by Lupine »

Excellent, RJ. Truly excellent :yes: . I'm reminded a bit of "Impossible Dream" from The Man of La Mancha.
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Re: How Are You?

Post by RJDiogenes »

Thanks, Lupy. :blush: And "Impossible Dream" has always been one of my favorite songs since I was a kid, so that is very, very flattering. :yes:
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Re: How Are You?

Post by Sean »

^Ooo...me likey! :D Very nice RJ.

I'd love to be able to write something like this...but I don't think I've lived enough yet. Too many things I haven't experienced. In a few decades, when I'm able to write a piece like this, it saddens me to know that the things you described...the Womens' Movement...Summer of Love...hell, even the Cold War, will be things read about only in a text book, with very few around to give first hand accounts of what things were really like. Instead, the things from "back in the day" will be Rap music, the advent of cellphones and people's overdependance on technology...and many more things that have yet to happen. :mellow:
"The difference between a violin and a viola is that a viola burns longer."-Victor Borge

"I have been busier than a one armed worm caught in a tape dispenser."- Astrosmurf, Tuesday July 22, 2008
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RJDiogenes
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Re: How Are You?

Post by RJDiogenes »

Indeed, things that I remember happening around me or seeing on the news are already being taught in History classes. It's kind of sad, at least to me. But then again, it's those things, as you say, "that have yet to happen" that carry the potential for a better world. :yes:
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Re: How Are You?

Post by Lupine »

RJDiogenes wrote:Indeed, things that I remember happening around me or seeing on the news are already being taught in History classes. It's kind of sad, at least to me.
You should be proud to have seen all those things and still be here to talk of them. I've been living here in Lucerne Valley for over 35 years now and have seen the valley change in almost every way. But I am happy that I can remember the vast alfalfa fields that would turn the floor of the valley green in the summer, or the old Post Office, or the old market, or the F-4s that would drop into the valley to goof off (no radar coverage here back then). Remembering history is never anything to be sad about.
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Re: How Are You?

Post by RJDiogenes »

True enough. In addition to the sadness of things that have past, I do really feel privileged to have lived when I did and to have seen the things I did. "Born at the right time," as Paul Simon would say. I just wish time was a two-way street and that the past could be revisited.

And I wish I could have seen those alfalfa fields in the Summertime. :D
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