I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Kids Are Our Present

Juliet, NakedI tend to be nostalgic. I find balance in that line from an old Billy Joel song: “The good old days weren’t always good and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.” Of course, the irony of that statement is, those lyrics were penned in the early 80s, so even my balance is rooted in nostalgia.

I often wonder if my penchant for nostalgia is the result of never marrying and having kids. Kids are our future – or so the saying goes. Maybe being focused on the future would have helped me to cut back on thinking big hair, big combs, and tube socks were all the rage. I know, even my clichés are nostalgic.

But I read a passage in a novel called Juliet, Naked yesterday that made me re-consider (Juliet, by the way, is the name of an album – Juliet, Naked is the name of the acoustic re-release of the album). The novel is about two people, Duncan and Annie, who have been in a 15-year relationship that is centered around their interest in an old, forgotten singer who hasn’t put out anything new in 20 years.

When Annie realizes she is wasting her time with Duncan, she breaks up with him and she goes out to a pub with a female friend to find out what other people do. She sees people who are stuck in old patterns who are trying to re-capture old magic, which causes her to wonder, “Where was the now?” How do people who swim around in the past stand it?

She concludes that children are the answer. Here’s her thought process:
That was why she wanted children, too. The cliché had it that kids were the future, but that wasn’t it: they were the unreflective, active present. They were not themselves nostalgic, because they couldn’t be, and they retarded nostalgia in their parents. Even as they were getting sick and being bullied and becoming addicted to heroin and getting pregnant, they were in the moment, and she wanted to be in it with them. She wanted to worry herself sick about schools and bullying and drugs.
That passage really hit me. Do we yearn for yesteryear because it was the only time in our lives when we live in the active present? If so, it makes me wonder if that is one of the reasons the cycle of life works the way it does. We are designed to get married and have children earlier in life, as opposed to later, and by doing so, we are forced into the active present. Maybe people who don’t have children drift easier from the present to the past. 

I do know this – being an uncle helps. I have two nieces and one nephew and I love all three of them dearly. I sing with them. Act goofy with them. And maybe tease them once in a while. And I don’t know who loves it more – me or them. But whenever I spend time with them, we are in the present. And I feel more alive.


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